Alopecia Areata in Children
Alopecia areata is a condition that affects the part of a person's skin that hair grows from (hair follicles). The most common symptom of alopecia areata in children is hair loss. Although uncommon, alopecia areata in children can progress to complete loss of hair on the head, face, and body. Although there is no cure for alopecia areata in children, there are treatment options (including medications that are approved for other conditions) that may help hair to grow back.
Alopecia areata is a disease that affects the hair follicles, which are part of the skin from which hairs grow. In the United States, it is estimated that alopecia areata has affected 4 million people. It affects both men and women of all ages and ethnic backgrounds, and it usually begins in childhood.
Common Symptoms of Alopecia Areata in Children
The most common symptom of alopecia areta in children is hair loss. In most cases, hair falls out in small, round patches about the size of a quarter. Although most children with alopecia areata get only a few bare patches, some children may lose more hair. Although uncommon, alopecia areata in children can progress to complete loss of hair on the head (alopecia areata totalis) or complete loss of hair on the head, face, and body (alopecia areata universalis).
(Click Alopecia Areata Symptoms for more information about the symptoms of alopecia areata in children.)
Causes of Alopecia Areata in Children
Alopecia areata in children is considered an autoimmune disease, in which the immune system (which is designed to protect the body from foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria) mistakenly attacks its own body. In alopecia areata, the immune system attacks the hair follicles, which can lead to hair loss on the scalp and elsewhere.