With alopecia areata, it’s the hair follicles that are attacked.

What Is Alopecia areata?

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune chronic inflammatory disease, which affects hair follicles and sometimes nails. The typical clinical presentation is with well-circumscribed bald patches on the scalp or beard area. The amount of hair loss is different in everyone. Some people lose it only in a few spots whereas others lose a lot. Sometimes, hair grows back but falls out again later. In others, hair grows back for good. Exclamation mark hairs (short broken hairs tapering towards the proximal end) may be found around the margins

There are different types of this condition. Alopecia areata is most common in its main form, but there are other, more rare types:

  • Alopecia areata totalis means you’ve lost all the hair on your head.
  • Alopecia areata universalis is the loss of hair over your entire body.
  • Diffuse alopecia areata is a sudden thinning of your hair rather than lost patches.
  • Ophiasis alopecia areata causes hair loss in a band shape around the sides and back of your head.

What causes Alopecia Areata?

When you have an autoimmune disease, your immune system attacks your body. With alopecia areata, it’s the hair follicles that are attacked.

Alopecia Symptoms

The main and often the only symptom of alopecia areata is hair loss. You may notice:
  • Small bald patches on your scalp or other parts of your body
  • Patches may get larger and grow together into a bald spot
  • Hair grows back in one spot and falls out in another
  • You lose a lot of hair over a short time
  • More hair loss in cold weather
  • Fingernails and toenails become red, brittle, and pitted
The bald patches of skin are smooth, with no rash or redness. But you may feel tingling, itching or burning sensation on your skin right before the hair falls out.

Alopecia areata Treatment

Alopecia areata can’t be cured completely, but we can help hair grow back to an extend. Treatment for alopecia areata include medications that are sometimes used for other autoimmune disorders. These medicines have differing amounts of success in regrowing hair.


These are anti-inflammatory drugs that are prescribed for autoimmune diseases. They can be given as an injection into the scalp or other areas. They can also be given as a pill or rubbed on the skin as an ointment, cream, or foam. The downside is that it may take a long time to work.

Topical immunotherapy.

This is used when there’s a lot of hair loss or if it happens more than once. Chemicals are applied to the scalp to produce an allergic reasponse. If it works, this reaction is actually what makes the hair grow back. It also causes an itchy rash and usually has to be repeated several times to keep the new hair growth.



This medication is also used for pattern baldness. It usually takes about 12 weeks before you see growth.