Alopecia areata is a highly unpredictable autoimmune skin disease resulting in the loss of hair on the scalp and elsewhere on the body. It is a common disease that is not commonly known, and affects approximately 2 percent of the population overall, including more than 6.5 million people in the United States alone.
Alopecia areata occurs in males and females and can occur at any age. It is not a life threatening condition and is too often regarded as a manageable cosmetic condition by health insurance providers. Alopecia areata may occur suddenly and its unpredictability makes it difficult to treat as well as manage cosmetically. The impact on one’s life can be significant for adults as well as children.
Three Types of Alopecia
- Alopecia areata usually starts with one or more small, round, smooth bald areas on the scalp and is the most common type of alopecia.
- Alopecia totalis is the complete loss of hair on the scalp and frequently begins as alopecia areata.
- Alopecia universalis is hair loss of the scalp and the entire body.
In all types of alopecia areata the hair follicles are still alive, they are just receiving an erroneous signal from the immune system. It is best to visit a dermatologist for a correct diagnosis.
The National Alopecia Areata Foundation has a yearly convention and welcomes children and their families. It’s a great opportunity to make new friends and learn about the types of research taking place to unravel the mystery of this type of hair loss. Support groups may also be available in your area; you may find information about their location through your dermatologist or the National Alopecia Areata Foundation.
For more information on hair loss, please see our Links page, where you will links to groups specializing in different hair loss situations.
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