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What is alopecia areata?

Why do patches of hair sometimes fall out?

Dr Louisa Draper

"Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition and is thought to be caused by inflammation. The cause of the inflammation is not known. However, it is thought that this type of hair loss is caused when the immune system attacks growing hair. "

Dr Louisa Draper

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Alopecia areata is a hair-loss condition that can affect men, women and children. This type of hair loss is patchy, often comes on suddenly, and can recur frequently. 

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition which shows up as anything from a single bald patch on the scalp to hair loss all over the body. ‘Autoimmune’ means that the body’s immune system attacks a part of the body instead of protecting it from foreign bodies such as bacteria and viruses. In the case of alopecia areata, the immune system attacks the hair follicles, causing them to fall out. The hair usually grows again, but the condition can be very distressing for the sufferer, causing anxiety and a lack of self-confidence.

There are a number of forms of alopecia areata, but having one form doesn’t mean that the condition will necessarily develop to the more advanced stages.