About Alopecia Areata
What is it?
Affecting nearly 5 million Americans, alopecia areata is a medical condition in which the hair falls out in patches. It is unpredictable; if you have it, your experience may not be the same as someone else’s. For example, you may have hair loss followed by full regrowth while another person may have only partial regrowth. Or your case may last a few months while someone else’s may last several years. In addition to patchy hair loss, other symptoms of this condition include widespread hair loss, nail irregularities (e.g., splitting or changes in color, texture, shape), and single strands of hair in or near the bald patch(es).
What causes it?
Alopecia areata occurs when your immune system mysteriously attacks hair follicles, causing hair to fall out in clumps. Although the reasons for this are still unclear, it’s thought to be related to genetics.
Despite there being no known cure for this type of alopecia areata, there are ways to manage the loss of hair and/or help it grow back. Among the options are Minoxidil, an over-the-counter topical lotion also offered in prescription strength; corticosteroids for immune system suppression; Anthralin, a topical medication that disrupts the immune system and promotes hair growth; and Diphencyprone, a topical medication that disturbs the immune system to stop hair loss and stimulate hair growth.