Alopecia areata - Overview
Alopecia totalis; Alopecia universalis
Definition of Alopecia areata:
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
- Reviewed last on: 10/14/2010
- Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier;2009: pp 932-934.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the
diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be
consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all
medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not
constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997-
A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is
© 2011 University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC). All rights reserved.
UMMC is a member of the University of Maryland Medical System,
22 S. Greene Street, Baltimore, MD 21201. TDD: 1-800-735-2258 or 1.866.408.6885