If you are dealing with hair loss, you may have come across the term "alopecia areata." You may have questions about what it is and whether you have it. To answer these questions, it's helpful to have some background about the condition.
Alopecia areata is a disease that results in hair loss. It is an autoimmune disease (which is when your immune system mistakenly attacks a part of your own body). When a person's white blood cells attack the hair follicles, hair production ceases and hair begins to fall out.
People who have alopecia areata typically lose hair in small, quarter-sized patches. In rare situations, alopecia areata can cause complete loss of hair on the head or complete loss of hair on the head, face, and body.
Alopecia areata is a condition that affects both men and women of all ages and ethnic backgrounds. It usually begins in childhood, and it tends to run in families. Although there is no cure for alopecia areata, doctors can prescribe medications that are approved for other diseases to help hair grow back.
(Click Alopecia Areata for a more in-depth look at what alopecia areata is, including information on its causes and treatment options, as well as helpful tips on coping with the disease.)