Alopecia Areata is a condition that causes hair loss on the scalp and occasionally on other parts of the body or the entire body. Only about 2% of Americans will experience some type of alopecia areata in their lifetime, but for those who do, it can be a difficult affliction to deal with emotionally, especially when it strikes in childhood, as it often does.
The most common manifestation of alopecia areata causes small bald patches on the head, usually about the size of a quarter. A minority of alopecia areata sufferers experience complete loss of the hair on their heads; an even smaller minority lose all of their body hair.
Currently there is no cure for alopecia areata and the causes of the disease still remain somewhat of a mystery. It is partially genetic, but a person will only get alopecia areata if both parents have the gene. And, not everyone who has the genes for alopecia areata will actually develop any bald spots or baldness at all, which leads researchers to believe that it is more than genetics that triggers the auto-immune response that causes alopecia areata.
Alopecia areata occurs when your immune system attacks your hair follicles. The attack restricts the affected hair follicles, making it difficult, and in some cases impossible, for the follicle to continue growing hair normally. However, alopecia areata does not kill hair follicles; this is good news for sufferers because it means that if the auto-immune response can be stopped, hair growth will most likely return to normal.
The board-certified dermatologists at Dermatologic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery can help patients of any age manage their alopecia areata. While there is no cure, there are a number of treatments available and our doctors will be happy to speak with you about your child’s or your condition.