What is alopecia areata?

  • Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition that affects about 2 % of the world’s population.
  • 50 % of those who develop alopecia areata will experience hair loss before the age of 20. Therefore, alopecia areata is frequently starts in childhood and adolescence.
  • The condition is classified as an autoimmune condition, meaning that the body’s own immune system is attacking the hairs.
  • The precise cause of alopecia areata is unknown.

What are the different types of alopecia areata?

  • The vast majority of individuals with alopecia areata develop a limited number of patches (circular areas of hair loss) on the scalp. This is known as patchy alopecia areata.
  • Alopecia totalis refers to loss of all scalp hair.
  • Alopecia universalis refers to loss of scalp hair as well as all body hair.
  • Ophiasis refers to a form of alopecia where individuals lose hair at the back of the scalp

Is a biopsy needed to diagnose alopecia areata?

No, in most cases a biopsy is not needed. There are some rare forms of alopecia areata that can be difficult to diagnosis and require a biopsy.

What are the treatments for alopecia areata?

Treatments help some patients to regrow hair.

a) If patients have small areas of hair loss, treatments include:

  1. steroid injections
  2. minoxidil
  3. prednisone (short course)

 b) If patients have more extensive areas of hair loss, treatments include:

  1. diphencyprone
  2. anthralin 
  3. methotrexate
  4. sulfasalazine
  5. steroid injections
  6. prednisone
  7. cyclosporine

 Hair loss can occur again in the future. 

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