Alopecia areata is a condition that causes round patches of hair loss.
Alopecia totalis; Alopecia universalis
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Forms of alopecia include:
- Alopecia totalis -- complete loss of scalp hair
- Alopecia universalis -- total loss of all body hair
- Loss of all scalp and body hair (alopecia universalis)
- Loss of all scalp hair (alopecia totalis)
- Roundish patches of hair loss on the head
- Smooth, hairless scalp in the affected areas
Hairs that look like exclamation points are sometimes seen at the edges of a bald patch.
Signs and tests
On occasion, a scalp biopsy may be performed. Several blood tests may be done, because alopecia areata may occur with autoimmune conditions.
No fully effective treatments are available. Typical therapy includes:
- Steroid injection under the skin surface
- Topical corticosteroids
- Ultraviolet light therapy
Irritating drugs may be applied to hairless areas to cause the hair to regrow.
Full recovery of hair is common. However, some people may have a poorer outcome, including those with:
- Alopecia areata at a young age
- Eczema (atopic dermatitis)
- Long-term alopecia
Permanent hair loss is a possible complication of alopecia areata.
Calling your health care provider
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you are concerned about hair loss.
Reviewed By: Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.