Alopecia Areata

What is Alopecia Areata (Patches of Hair Loss)?

Alopecia Areata is defined by patches of hair loss and can be mistakenly diagnosed as ringworm on occasion.

Alopecia Areata affects less than 1% of the population and can affect men, women and children of any age or nationality. This condition is autoimmune is often triggered by an emotive situation, this can occur up to 3 months before the appearance of the patch of hair loss. This hair loss condition may also present with pitting or ridges to the fingernails and can cause the eyebrows to thin also.

What is Alopecia Areata (Patches of Hair Loss)?

Different Types of Alopecia Areata

There are several forms of Alopecia Areata condition:

  • Alopecia Areata which can cause a single small patch or several patches of varying size and occasionally these join together to cover an extensive area of the scalp.
  • Alopecia Totalis which causes the whole scalp hair to fall.
  • Oophiasic Alopecia Areata the prognosis of this condition is not good as rarely regrows, it can cause the whole hairline (front and back) to fall out.
  • Alopecia Universalis this causes every single hair on the body to fall, often overnight. An example of this would be Duncan Goodhue who had a shocking bereavement.

Alopecia Areata Treatment

Alopecia Areata condition can be treated in the clinic and at home with the use of stimulants, ultraviolet light therapy (which causes an autoimmune response and hairs grows as a reaction), and massage. We are against the use of intralesional and topical steroids as any hair that regrows from these injections rarely remains. There are occasions where the use of hair pieces and wigs are advised for the short-term- this often breaks the emotions connected to being an AA patient, and the hair growth can resume.

I feel it so important that the patient understands the prognosis entirely and suggested Alopecia Areata treatment. There are too many pseudo-clinics who don’t do this, and as hair loss is distressing enough, I would hate my patients not to understand the entire AA diagnosis process.

Shuna HammocksConsultant Trichologist

Further Reading on Alopecia Areata