Autoimmune Disease

Alopecia Areata


Alopecia totalis; Alopecia universalis

Alopecia areata is a condition that causes round patches of hair loss, and can lead to total hair loss.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

The cause of alopecia areata is unknown. About a fifth of people with this condition have a family history of alopecia.

Alopecia areata is thought to be an autoimmune condition. This occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys healthy body tissue.

Alopecia areata is seen in men, women, and children. A major life event such as an illness, pregnancy, or trauma occurs before the hair loss in some, but not most patients.

Forms of alopecia include:

  • Alopecia areata -- patches of hair loss, usually on the scalp, but they also can be in the beard or other areas
  • Alopecia totalis -- complete loss of scalp hair
  • Alopecia universalis -- total loss of all body hair

SOURCE: PubMed Health

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March is Autoimmune Disease
Awareness Month!

Autoimmune diseases result from a dysfunction of the immune system. The immune system protects you from disease and infection. Sometimes, though, the immune system can produce autoantibodies that attack healthy cells, tissues, and organs. This can lead to autoimmune disease.

Autoimmune diseases can affect any part of the body. More than 80 autoimmune diseases have been identified. Some are relatively well known, such as type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis, while others are rare and difficult to diagnose.

Collectively, autoimmune diseases are among the most prevalent diseases in the U.S., affecting more than 23.5 million Americans. They are more common among women, and while some are more prevalent among white people, others are more common among African-Americans and Hispanics. Autoimmune diseases are becoming increasingly prevalent, for reasons unknown.

Some autoimmune diseases are life-threatening, and most are debilitating and require a lifetime of treatment. There are treatments available to reduce the symptoms and effects from many autoimmune diseases, but cures have yet to be discovered. Since most autoimmune diseases are rare, patients can often spend years seeking a proper diagnosis.

Learn more about autoimmune diseases here.