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About Alopecia Areata

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease, meaning the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks some part of your own body.  Alopecia areata results in partial or complete loss of hair on the scalp and body.

According to the National Institutes of Health, with alopecia areata:

  • The immune system, which is designed to protect the body from foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria, mistakenly attacks the hair follicles, the structures from which hairs grow.
  • Immune system cells called white blood cells attack the rapidly growing cells in the hair follicles. The affected hair follicles become small and drastically slow down hair production.  This can lead to hair loss on the scalp and elsewhere.
  • In most cases, hair falls out in small, round patches about the size of a quarter. In many cases, the disease does not extend beyond a few bare patches. In some people, hair loss is more extensive.
  • Although uncommon, the disease can progress to cause total loss of hair on the scalp (referred to as alopecia areata totalis) or complete loss of hair on the scalp, face, and body (alopecia areata universalis).
  • For more information, visit https://www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/alopecia_areata/
Affects up to 650,000 Americans at any given time
Onset of the disease can occur throughout life
Affects both men and women
The scalp is the most commonly affected area
Any hair-bearing site can be affected
Hair loss can be on the scalp or other areas or both
Can be associated with anxiety and depression
Currently no drugs approved by the FDA for alopecia areata
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