Alopecia: The Basics

Alopecia is a term used to refer to baldness. Alopecia areata is a condition that causes the person's hair to fall out and is an autoimmune disorder. This means that the body's immune system actually attacks itself; in this case, it attacks the hair follicles, causing the hair to fall out in chunks. In some cases, hair loss may occur in just a few areas, while other cases may be greater. Some instances of alopecia may cause the individual to lose all of their hair on their head, while others may lose all of their hair all over their body. Unknown triggers are thought to cause this autoimmune reaction, while a person's genetic makeup is also thought to cause the reaction. For some, the hair may grow back and fall out again, while in others, it grows back and does not fall out again.

If you have a relative who has alopecia areata, your chances for developing the condition yourself may be greater than individuals who do not have a relative with the condition. It may occur more among individuals with relatives with other autoimmune disorders as well such as diabetes, lupus or thyroid disease. While this condition may not be cured, there are treatments available and hair may grow back. Corticosteroids may be injected into the scalp or other areas on the body, may be taken orally or may be applied topically by rubbing the treatment into the scalp. Other treatments may be available as well, including certain hair growth medicines and treatments.

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