Man with severe alopecia areata removing his cap

Man with severe alopecia areata removing his cap

Answering your questions about alopecia areata

The more you know about this autoimmune disease, the more equipped you are to take it on. Read on for answers to all your alopecia areata questions.

What is alopecia areata?

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system mistakenly attacks hair follicles at the root and causes hair to fall out. Typically, hair is protected from an immune system attack, but in alopecia areata, this protection is lost.

Who is affected by alopecia areata?

Alopecia areata can affect all ages, genders, and races/ethnicities. It affects males and females at similar rates.

In the United States, nearly 7 million people are living with alopecia areata.

What age do people experience the first signs of alopecia areata?

Typically, the first signs of alopecia areata occur between the ages of 25 and 36, but alopecia areata can occur at any age. In fact, nearly 20% of people with alopecia areata are under the age of 18.

What types of alopecia areata are there?

There are different types of this autoimmune disease, including:

  • Patchy alopecia areata: round patches of hair loss on the scalp
  • Alopecia totalis: complete hair loss on the scalp
  • Alopecia universalis: complete hair loss on the scalp and body

In addition to the scalp, people with alopecia areata may also lose hair from their:

  • Eyebrows
  • Eyelashes
  • Face
  • Nose
  • Body

What factors are important to dermatologists when evaluating alopecia areata?

Dermatologists may look at:

  • Amount of hair loss
  • Location of hair loss
  • How long a person has had alopecia areata
  • How quickly a person lost their hair
  • The impact of alopecia areata on a person’s life

Are there other ways alopecia areata can affect the body?

The physical impact of alopecia areata—which can include the loss of eyebrows, eyelashes, and nose and body hair—may also result in:

  • Eye irritation due to sweat, water, or dust
  • Frequent runny nose and sneezing
  • Being more sensitive to temperature and sunburn

Some people with alopecia areata can also experience weakness or denting of the nails.

How is alopecia areata treated?

Dermatologists treat this autoimmune disease in a variety of ways. That’s why it’s important to talk to your dermatologist and decide on a treatment plan that’s right for you.

Until 2022, there were no FDA-approved prescription pills for severe alopecia areata.

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