Alopecia Areata (AA) is a condition characterized by the rapid onset of hair loss, usually in well-defined patches. It is an autoimmune condition, meaning that the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own cells, in this case the hair follicles, leading to hair loss primarily on the scalp, but it may also affect the beard, eyebrows, eyelashes, and body hair. The exact cause of AA is not known, but both genetic and environmental factors are believed to play a role. Severity and extent vary from person to person. Some people may experience complete hair loss, a condition known as alopecia universalis, while others may observe only minimal patchy loss. Treatment of AA often involves medication to help hair regrow and to address the autoimmune aspect of the condition.

Alopecia Areata

Causes of AA (Alopecia Areata)

Alopecia Areata (AA) is a condition in which hair falls out from the scalp, face, or other areas of the body. The exact cause of AA is still unknown, but it’s believed to be an autoimmune condition in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the hair follicles. This attack on the hair follicles leads to their temporary or permanent damage, resulting in hair loss.

Several factors may contribute to the development of AA:

1. Genetic Predisposition: AA often runs in families, which implies a role of genes and heredity.

2. Autoimmune Disorders: AA is often associated with other autoimmune conditions such as thyroid disease, lupus, vitiligo, rheumatoid arthritis, and ulcerative colitis.

3. Stress or Psychological Trauma: Some evidence suggests high levels of psychological stress may trigger the onset of AA in some people.

4. Environmental Factors: Various environmental factors might trigger AA in individuals who are genetically prone to the disease.

It’s important to note that while these factors can contribute to the development of AA, not every person with these factors will develop the condition. Furthermore, many people who develop AA have none of these risk factors. More research is needed to fully understand the causes and triggers for Alopecia Areata.

Risk Factors of AA (Alopecia Areata)

Alopecia areata (AA) is a condition where hair falls out in small patches, which can be unnoticeable. The condition develops when the immune system attacks the hair follicles, resulting in hair loss. Here are some risk factors associated with it:

1. Genetic Predisposition: A family history of AA can increase the likelihood of developing the condition.

2. Autoimmune Disorders: Those with certain autoimmune disorders like thyroiditis, type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, vitiligo, pernicious anemia, and lupus, are at a higher risk of developing AA.

3. Stress: While not a direct cause, high levels of stress can trigger an immune response that leads to AA in some cases.

4. Age: Although AA can affect anyone regardless of age, it often first appears during childhood or adolescence.

5. Sex: Both sexes can be affected, but some studies suggest a higher incidence in males.

6. Allergies: People with certain types of allergies like atopy (a predisposition toward allergic reactions like asthma and eczema) may have an increased risk of developing AA.

7. Viral Infections: Some studies suggest a correlation between viral infections and the onset of AA, but more research is needed to confirm this.

Remember that having one or more risk factor does not guarantee you will develop AA; they just increase the chances. If you have concerns about hair loss or other symptoms related to AA, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare provider.

Signs and Symptoms of AA (Alopecia Areata)

Alopecia Areata (AA) is a condition in which hair is lost from some or all areas of the body. It typically results in a few small, round, smooth patches of baldness on the scalp.

Signs and symptoms of Alopecia Areata include:

1. Hair Loss: This is the most common symptom. Hair loss in Alopecia Areata occurs in small, round patches, usually on the scalp. These patches are typically a few centimeters or less in size. Hair loss might also occur on other parts of the face and body.

2. “Exclamation Mark” Hairs: In some cases, few short hairs may occur at the edge of the bald spots. These often get narrower at the base, hence called “exclamation mark” hairs.

3. Tingling Sensation or Itching: Before the hair falls out, some people might experience a tingling sensation or mild itching on the affected area.

4. Nail Pitting or Dents: Small dents or white spots, called pitting, might appear on the fingernails or toenails. Nail changes occur in around half of people with Alopecia Areata.

5. Regrowth of White or Grey Hair: Hair may start to regrow at the site of the bald patches, but it might be white or gray, rather than the person’s natural color. Over time, the color may return to normal.

6. Unpredictable Hair Loss and Regrowth: Hair might grow back and stay, or fall out again. The extent of hair loss and regrowth can be unpredictable.

It’s important to note that Alopecia Areata is not a contagious condition, and it does not cause pain or make someone feel sick. However, it could be emotionally challenging for those affected, and can potentially lead to severe or permanent hair loss in some cases. Always contact a healthcare professional if you experience unexplained hair loss or other concerning symptoms.

Diagnosis AA (Alopecia Areata)

Alopecia Areata (AA) is a common autoimmune disorder that often results in sudden, unpredictable hair loss. It affects around 6.8 million people in the U.S. and can affect anyone regardless of age and gender.

In this condition, the immune system attacks the hair follicles (the part of the skin that grows hair), resulting in hair loss. This hair loss usually causes small, round patches of baldness on the scalp, but can also affect other parts of the body.

The severity of Alopecia Areata varies from person to person. Some people might lose only a few strands of hair and regrow them after a period of time, while for others, the hair loss could be permanent. Severity can also fluctuate over time, with hair growing back and falling out again later.

At present, there is no cure for Alopecia Areata, however there are treatments available that can promote hair growth and help individuals to manage their condition.

The exact cause of Alopecia Areata is not known but it is believed to be triggered by stress or a viral infection. It’s also important to note that Alopecia Areata is not a sign of a more serious health condition and most individuals with the disorder are otherwise healthy.

Treatment of AA (Alopecia Areata)

Alopecia Areata (AA) is an autoimmune disorder that leads to unwanted hair loss. This condition manifests as bald patches, usually on the scalp or other parts of the body. Although there is currently no cure for AA, there are treatments that can help slow or reduce hair loss, or even stimulate hair growth. Here are some of the main types of treatment:

1. Topical Agents: Medicines such as corticosteroids, minoxidil (Rogaine), and Anthralin (Dithranol) can be directly applied to the skin to stimulate hair growth.

2. Injections: Corticosteroid injections into the areas of hair loss are one of the most common treatments for Alopecia Areata. They can help suppress the immune reaction that is damaging the hair follicles.

3. Oral Treatments: Severe or resistant AA might sometimes be treated with oral or systemic medications, such as corticosteroids, methotrexate, or cyclosporine.

4. Photochemotherapy: In photochemotherapy, a treatment called PUVA involves focusing controlled ultraviolet light on the areas of hair loss.

5. Immunotherapy: Topical immunotherapy is another option. One common method involves applying a chemical like diphencyprone (DPCP) to the skin in order to stimulate an allergic rash, which alters the immune response.

6. Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP): PRP therapy involves drawing a patient’s blood, processing it so as to isolate certain beneficial substances, and then injecting it into balding areas.

7. Wigs/Cosmetics: Some people choose wigs or cosmetics to help make their hair loss less noticeable.

It’s important to note that not all treatments are effective for everyone and side effects are possible. Therefore, it’s essential to have a discussion with a healthcare provider to identify the most suitable treatment plan.

Medications commonly used for AA (Alopecia Areata)

Alopecia Areata (AA) is an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks hair follicles, resulting in hair loss. Although there is no cure, there are several treatments and medications that can promote hair growth and prevent future hair loss. Here are some commonly used medications for AA:

1. Corticosteroids: These are powerful anti-inflammatory drugs that can suppress the immune system. They are typically administered by a dermatologist through local injections, topical ointment application, or orally. This treatment is the most common method used for AA.

2. Minoxidil (Rogaine): Applied topically, this over-the-counter (OTC) medication can stimulate hair growth. It’s usually used in combination with other treatments.

3. Anthralin: This is a synthetic, tar-like substance that is applied to the skin for a short time each day and then washed off. It helps to induce hair growth by causing an artificial irritation on the skin.

4. Topical Immunotherapy: This is used when there is a lot of hair loss or if hair loss continues. Chemicals are applied to the scalp to produce an allergic reaction that leads to hair growth.

5. Other medications: Certain other arthritis medications like methotrexate and sulfasalazine, or Janus kinase inhibitors, may be provided by the doctor depending on the patient’s condition.

Remember to always consult with a healthcare professional or a dermatologist to make sure the right medication or treatment option is suited for the individual’s condition. Each of these medications could have potential side effects that need to be taken into account.

Prevention of AA (Alopecia Areata)

Alopecia Areata (AA) is an autoimmune disorder causing hair loss. Currently, there is no certain way to prevent this condition as it’s often linked to genetics and immune system irregularities. Here are some general tips that might help reduce the risk or slow down the progression:

1. Regular Checkups: Regular dermatologist visits can help identify symptoms early. Early detection can lead to more effective treatment.

2. Maintain a Healthy Diet: A balanced, nutrient-dense diet can help strengthen the immune system and promote hair growth. Include foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, Zinc, Biotin, Vitamin D, and iron.

3. Proper Hair Care: Avoid harsh hair treatments or styling methods that can strain or damage the hair follicles.

Alopecia Areata

4. Stress Management: Chronic stress can trigger or worsen auto-immune disorders, including AA. Stress management techniques such as yoga, meditation, and regular exercise can help keep stress levels under control.

5. Strictly following Medication: If you have a diagnosed condition, it is crucial to stick to your treatment plan and medications to prevent disease progression.

6. Regular Exercise: Regular physical activity can help maintain a healthy immune system and alleviate stress, potentially reducing the risk or severity of AA.

7. Avoid Smoking: Cigarette smoke can negatively impact the immune system and can contribute to an increased risk of developing AA.

However, remember that Alopecia Areata can sometimes occur without a discernible cause, and prevention isn’t always possible. If you have a family history or symptoms of AA, it’s a good idea to discuss this with your doctor or a dermatologist who can provide personalized advice and monitor your hair health.

FAQ’s about AA (Alopecia Areata)

1. What is Alopecia Areata (AA)?
Alopecia Areata is an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system wrongly targets the hair follicles, leading to hair loss. This can occur on the scalp as well as other parts of the body.

2. What are the symptoms?
The primary symptom of AA is hair loss, which typically appears as small, round bald patches on the scalp. However, it can also affect other parts of the body where hair grows, such as the eyebrows, eyelashes, and pubic area.

3. Who is most likely to get AA?
Alopecia Areata can affect anyone of any age or gender, but it most often starts in childhood.

4. Is Alopecia Areata genetic?
There is evidence to suggest a genetic predisposition to AA, meaning if a direct family member has it, your chances of developing it may be increased. However, it is not a certainty you will get it.

5. How is AA diagnosed?
Typically, a dermatologist will make a diagnosis based on a physical examination of the symptoms. In some cases, a small skin sample (biopsy) may be taken for further analysis.

6. How is AA treated?
There is currently no cure for AA, but there are treatments that can help stimulate hair growth. These can range from topical medications, corticosteroid injections, to light therapy. It often depends on the individual’s severity of hair loss and their response to treatment.

7. Is the hair loss permanent?
Hair loss from AA is not necessarily permanent. In many cases, hair may regrow on its own without any treatment. However, it may take a considerable amount of time, and for some, the hair loss can be permanent.

8. Does the disease affect general health?
While AA can cause emotional distress due to the hair loss, it itself does not cause physical illness or damage any other body systems.

9. Can lifestyle changes help with managing AA?
Yes, maintaining a balanced diet, reducing stress, getting adequate sleep, and exercising regularly can assist with overall wellbeing, digestion, and hormone balance which can indirectly assist in managing AA.

Remember to consult your healthcare provider or a dermatologist if you suspect you have AA for an accurate diagnosis and treatment options.

Useful links

Alopecia Areata (AA) is an autoimmune disorder that results in unpredictable hair loss. The immune system attacks hair follicles leading to hair loss. Here are some helpful links and resources from medical journals that provide more information about the disease:


Please note that these links lead to very technical, scientific articles. If you’re looking for more general, easy-to-understand information, websites like Mayo Clinic, American Academy of Dermatology, and WebMD have that information. Always consult a healthcare provider for personalized advice.

Complications of AA (Alopecia Areata)

Alopecia Areata (AA) is an autoimmune disease that results in hair loss on the scalp or other parts of the body. The disease affects the hair follicles (the part of the skin that makes hair), triggering it to produce small, round patches of bald spots that can be about the size of a coin or larger.

Here are some of the complications associated with Alopecia Areata:

1. Psychological Impact: The primary and often most challenging complication of AA is the psychological distress and the potential decrease in quality of life it causes. Loss of hair can lead to psychological concerns, including anxiety and depression, due to altered self-image and social function problems.

2. Regrowth and Relapse: Another complication is inconsistent hair regrowth. Even if hair does grow back after it falls out, it can again give way to hair loss at some point. This unpredictable nature of AA can be emotionally stressful for those impacted.

3. Nail Changes: People with AA may also have changes in the structure of their fingernails and toenails. This can include white spots and lines, pitting (small dents/ depressions in the nail surface), roughness, thinning, or splitting of the nails.

4. Other Autoimmune Conditions: People with Alopecia Areata may also be at a greater risk of developing other autoimmune diseases such as vitiligo, systemic lupus erythematosus, thyroid diseases like Hashimoto’s disease or Graves’ disease, or allergic disorders (like atopic dermatitis, or asthma).

5. Atopic Dermatitis: This skin condition is more common in people with AA, marked by itchy, red, and inflamed skin.

6. Eye complications: In severe cases of Alopecia Areata, known as Alopecia Totalis or Alopecia Universalis, where there’s total or universal loss of hair, individuals may suffer from eye complications including loss of eyelashes which can result in an increased risk of eye injury, infection, and dryness.

7. Impact on Social Life: The visibility of hair loss can make people with AA more susceptible to bullying, social stigma, and discrimination. It might affect their social interaction and relationships, further impacting their mental health.

Always remember that appropriate medical treatments and emotional support can help manage the symptoms and complications caused by Alopecia Areata.

Home remedies of AA (Alopecia Areata)

Alopecia Areata (AA) is an autoimmune disorder causing hair loss on the scalp and sometimes the body. While there’s currently no known cure, some home remedies may help cope with the condition or encourage hair to grow.

1. Essential Oils: Applying essential oils such as lavender, rosemary, or peppermint oil, may promote hair growth. However, they must be diluted with a carrier oil before application.

2. Onion Juice: Applying onion juice to the scalp has been shown to stimulate growth in some cases.

3. Healthy Diet: A balanced diet rich in vitamins A, B, D, and E, as well as minerals like iron, zinc, and selenium, may help.

4. Scalp Massage: Massaging the scalp can help stimulate blood circulation, promoting hair growth to a degree.

5. Green Tea: Applying green tea to the scalp may stimulate hair follicles and enhance hair growth.

6. Coconut Milk: Coconut milk is rich in essential fats and protein, which are needed for hair growth. Applying it to areas of hair loss might help hair grow back.

These remedies are not a guaranteed cure and they do not work for everyone, butThey might help ease the effects of Alopecia Areata. However, it’s crucial to consult a healthcare provider or a dermatologist before starting any home treatment. The efficacy of these treatments varies greatly from person to person and they are not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment.

Categorized in:


Last Update: January 6, 2024