Alopecia Areata (cont.)
Gary W. Cole, MD, FAAD
Dr. Cole is board certified in dermatology. He obtained his BA degree in bacteriology, his MA degree in microbiology, and his MD at the University of California, Los Angeles. He trained in dermatology at the University of Oregon, where he completed his residency.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- Alopecia areata facts
- What is alopecia areata?
- What causes alopecia areata?
- What are the different patterns of alopecia areata?
- Who is affected by alopecia areata?
- How is alopecia areata diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for alopecia areata?
- Find a local Dermatologist in your town
What are the different patterns of alopecia areata?
The most common pattern is one or more well-defined spots of hair loss on the scalp. There is also a form of more generalized thinning of hair referred to as diffuse alopecia areata throughout the scalp. Occasionally, all of the scalp hair is lost, a condition referred to as alopecia totalis. Less frequently, the loss of all of the hairs on the entire body, called alopecia universalis, occurs.
Who is affected by alopecia areata?
Alopecia areata tends to occur most often in adults 30 to 60 years of age. However, it can also affect older individuals and rarely toddlers. Alopecia areata in not contagious. It should be distinguished from hair shedding that may occur following the discontinuation of hormonal estrogen and progesterone therapies for birth control or the hair shedding associated with the end of pregnancy. There are a number of treatable conditions that could be confused with alopecia areata.
How is alopecia areata diagnosed?
The characteristic finding of alopecia areata is a well-circumscribed area or areas of normal hairless skin in an area of normal hair growth. Occasionally, it may be necessary to biopsy the scalp to support the diagnosis. Other findings that may be helpful are the appearance of short hairs that presumably represent fractured hairs, yellow areas of skin deposition at the follicular orifice, short thin hairs, and grey hair all present in a bald area. Other causes of hair loss are generally excluded from the consideration by history and clinical evaluation.
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