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Alopecia Areata and Who Gets It

Many people ask, "What is alopecia areata and who gets it?" Alopecia areata is a disease that affects the hair follicles and causes the hair to fall out, usually in small, round patches. Alopecia areata affects people of both sexes and of all ages and ethnic backgrounds. This condition usually begins in childhood.

Alopecia Areata and Who Gets It: An Overview

It is estimated that alopecia areata symptoms (round patches of hair loss that are usually the size of a quarter) affect 4 million people in the United States. Alopecia areata affects people of both sexes and of all ages and ethnic backgrounds. Alopecia areata often begins in childhood.


The risk of developing alopecia areata will increase slightly if people have a close family member with alopecia areata. Overall, 1 in 5 people with alopecia areata will have a family member who has alopecia areata as well.


It is possible, but not likely, for alopecia areata to be inherited. Most children with alopecia areata do not have a parent with the disease, and the vast majority of parents with alopecia areata do not pass the disease on to their children.
Alopecia areata research scientists believe that there may be a number of genes that predispose certain people to the disease, although it is highly unlikely that a child would inherit all of the genes that are needed to predispose him or her to the disease.
Even if a child inherits the exact combination of genes, he or she may not develop alopecia areata. In cases of identical twins (who share all of the same genes), one twin may have alopecia areata, while the other twin only has a 55% chance of having alopecia areata. This shows that other factors besides genetics are required to cause the disease.

Understanding Alopecia Areata

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