Alopecia Areata

Season 18
Episode 1809

Alopecia areata is a common autoimmune disorder that often results in unpredictable hair loss. It affects roughly 6.8 million people in the United States and is one of the most requested topics from viewers every year.

The following information is from The American Academy of Dermatology Association

What is alopecia areata?

This is a disease that develops when the body attacks its own hair follicles (where hair grows from), which can cause hair loss anywhere on the body.

Contagious: No

Pronounce: alopecia (al-low-pee-she-ah) areata (air-ē-ah-ta)

Bald patch

Many people who develop alopecia areata develop a round or oval bald patch on their scalp.

Many people who develop alopecia areata are otherwise healthy. They have hair loss and sometimes nail changes, but they remain in good health.

The hair loss tends to be unpredictable. Hair may regrow without treatment. This happens more often when someone has a few bald patches. When the hair regrows, it may fall out again—or it may not.

If alopecia areata affects the nails, you may see dents, ridges, or brittle nails. Some people develop red nails.

When does alopecia areata usually begin?

It can begin at any age; however, most people develop it during childhood or their teenage years. About half them see their hair regrow within 12 months without treatment.

When the hair regrows, it may never fall out again. It’s also possible to have unpredictable cycles of hair loss and regrowth for years.

If a parent has alopecia areata, will a child get it?

If a parent or close blood relative has (or had) alopecia areata, a child has a greater risk of developing this disease. While the risk is greater, not every child with this increased risk will get alopecia areata.

Research leading to new treatment

Because hair loss can greatly affect a person’s quality of life, researchers continue to study alopecia areata. Much of this research focuses on developing more effective treatments. This is giving new hope to patients, especially those living with widespread hair loss.

Dermatologists are conducting much of this research. If you are an adult with widespread alopecia areata, your dermatologist may talk with you about the possibility of joining one of these studies.

Types of alopecia areata

When talking about treatment, your dermatologist may mention the type of alopecia areata that you have.

The main types are:

Alopecia areata: Alopecia is the medical term for bald. Areata means patchy. This patchy baldness can develop anywhere on the body, including the scalp, beard area, eyebrows, eyelashes, armpits, inside your nose, or ears.

Alopecia totalis: The person loses all hair on the scalp, so the scalp is completely bald.

Alopecia universalis: The person loses all hair, leaving the entire body hairless. This is rare.


National Alopecia Areata Association
Resources from the National Alopecia Areata Association on what to know and the options for treatment and care.
Genetic and Rare Diseases Center, NIH
Resources from the Genetic and Rare Diseases Center on alopecia areata.
American Academy of Dermatology Association
Resources from the American Academy of Dermatology Association on alopecia areata.
Bald Girls Do Lunch
Bald Girls Do Lunch is a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicating to improving the quality of life for the women today and to inspiring the women of tomorrow living with alopecia areata.
Transcript PDF