At present, it’s believed and scientific research supports that alopecia areata causes stem from a discrepancy in the immune system of the body. The result is baldness. Unlike male pattern baldness, this type of balding can occur in women as well. It will appear most common in children, adolescents and in young adults.
When the abnormality in the immune system occurs, the individual’s immune system attacks the body tissues. In the case of alopecia areata, it is the hair follicles that are disrupted. The condition interrupts the normal formation of hair.
Over time, since new hair growth is prevented and the normal hair loss continues, the individual ends up with bald patches. In extreme cases, all body hair is lost. More commonly, there are areas where no hair grows on the scalp.
Researchers have identified the presence of immune cells in the hair follicles of affected areas. It is not known why this migration of immune cells occurs. Research is continuing into the precise reasons for the embarrassment of the symptoms.
There appears to be an association between alopecia and other conditions considered autoimmune related. Some other common autoimmune disorders are ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, vitiligo, thyroid disease and allergic disorders. There also appears to be a link between the occurrence of alopecia areata and family relationships. This would indicate a hereditary or genetic aspect.
Alopecia areata causes continue to be studied in an efforts to definitively provide a cause and a cure. Treatment options may be unnecessary, as in approximately half of the victims of the condition, the hair will return to normal health and thickness within a few months.
The condition is not contagious, and other than causing acute embarrassment, is not harmful. If the condition doesn’t clear up on its own within approximately one year, it is more likely that it will be a permanent manifestation.
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Generally, hair loss in patches signifies alopecia areata. Alopecia areata typically presents with sudden hair loss causing patches to appear on the scalp or other areas of the body. If left untreated, or if the disease does not respond to treatment, complete baldness can result in the affected area, which is referred to as alopecia totalis.