Alopecia Areata Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

Alopecia areata is a common hair loss issue faced by many individuals.

This is characterized by patches of hair loss in a particular area of the scalp or facial hair. Of course, in rare cases, this disease can affect the entire body, resulting in total hair loss (Alopecia Universalis).

Alopecia/Alopecia is a hair loss issue in which the body’s immune system suppresses the hair follicles in a particular area of the body, leading to patches of hair loss. Mostly, this happens on the scalp, but it can also happen to hairs in any part of the body.

However, the suppression of the hair follicles is not permanent, and it can be reversed with alopecia treatments in most cases. Even without the medication, the hair will re-grow after a few months.

This hair disorder can occur in people of any age group…alopecia in children is also seen in good numbers.

There should not be any misconception about this hair disorder. Alopecia is neither contagious nor due to nerves. But it may be genetically passed on to the progenies.

Different Types of Alopecia

This disease has several variations. Here are the most common varieties of this hair loss illness:-

Alopecia Areata

It is an autoimmune condition that causes patchy hair loss. It can be one small/large patch or several patches of hair loss. This is the most common alopecia type.

Alopecia Totalis

The total disappearance of hairs on the scalp characterizes this. Alopecia totalis is rare, and its complete cure is also quite tricky.

Alopecia Universalis

It is the most severe form of alopecia that results in complete loss of hair on the scalp and the entire body. Even the eyelashes and eyebrow hairs will fall off. It is challenging to achieve a complete cure for this one.

Alopecia Barbae

The type of alopecia mainly occurs in men, and it affects the beard area. It can either be a small patch of hair loss or extensive patches of facial hair loss.

Androgenetic Alopecia

This is another common form of alopecia… it is the male/female pattern baldness. The gradual thinning of hair finally makes the scalp appear through the hair…finally leading to partial or complete baldness. This is primarily a genetically acquired hair loss disorder. In this case, hair re-growth is not easy…..almost impossible.

Scarring Alopecia

Scarring alopecias, or cicatricial alopecia, refers to a group of rare disorders that cause permanent hair loss.

Traction Alopecia

This is not a disease…but it occurs due to poor hair care. Mostly, it happens with excessive pulling and pressure exerted on the hair because of certain hairstyles (particularly tight ponytails, pigtails, or braids) or habitually pulling hair with hands.

Anagen Effluvium

This type of hair loss usually occurs due to the side effects of certain medications (e.g., cancer treatment) or pollution, poor-quality shampoo, oil, bathing bars, etc. This is easily curable by not using those things causing Anagen Effluvium.

Telogen Effluvium

It is the most common hair loss issue. It is progressive hair loss that occurs as people grow older. This can also happen to young people as well. The thinning of the hair can be treated and stopped with proper hair care.

Alopecia Areata Nails

In some cases, the effects of alopecia disorder could also affect the nails on fingers and toes. Due to this disorder, the nails could develop tiny pinpoint dents, white spots, white lines, cracks, or splits. This is curable and mostly disappears with alopecia treatments.

Alopecia Symptoms

The most common symptom of alopecia is hair loss in patches. It may begin with a coin-sized patch on the scalp, beard, or any part of the body, and eventually, many more extensive and more significant patches of hair loss could occur.

If you suddenly notice clumps of hair falling out from a particular area of the scalp or beard…it could probably be an alopecia issue. Mostly, it appears at the back or sides of the scalp first.

Of course, not all patchy hair loss needs to be alopecia, as some fungal infections like ringworms can also cause this hair fall.

Widespread hair fall, including the hairs from eyebrows and eyelashes, is another symptom of alopecia. In rare cases, complete scalp and body hair loss suddenly begins to occur.

In some cases, the nails also develop white spots, dents, and cracks with the onset of this disease.

Alopecia Areata Causes

Alopecia is an autoimmune disease: the body’s immune system (especially the white blood cells) mistakenly suppresses the hair follicles’ functions. Medical science has yet to find the exact reason for such a health phenomenon.

‘The condition occurs when white blood cells attack the cells of hair follicles, causing them to shrink and dramatically slow down hair production.’

Medical studies only suggest that autoimmune diseases like alopecia occur when the genetic makeup of the person, in combination with other particular biological conditions of the individual, hinders the normal functioning of the hair follicles.

Besides alopecia, the autoimmune issue can also give rise to other diseases like allergies, asthma, hay fever, pernicious anemia, vitiligo, lupus, etc. Not all these diseases need to occur in someone with an autoimmune condition.

An autoimmune condition in the body creates a particular situation in which the cytokines (chemical messengers) released by lymphocytes around the hair follicles reject hair growth for some reason. This mostly happens to a cluster of hair follicles in a particular area of the body….a reason for the hair loss in patches.

Autoimmune issues usually have a genetic conception. Children born to a parent with an autoimmune health condition are more likely to have the same problem as well.

Usually, the autoimmune situation may not result in alopecia….but sometimes a stressful event in life can stimulate the occurrence of this hair loss disease.

This hair disorder can happen to people of any age, both men and women.

Alopecia Areata Treatment

There is no fast cure for alopecia areata. Usually, the lost hair will gradually re-grow within a few weeks…that is, in six months or before, the hair could usually grow in the affected areas.

Unfortunately, there is no reliable alopecia areata treatment, which is also true for other forms of autoimmune hair loss. Some currently available medicines work well in some cases but only for some patients.

There are also no preventive medicines to resist the reoccurrence of this hair loss disease. So, even while treatment is going on for alopecia in one area, a new hair loss patch could occur in another area.

The hairs in the alopecia-affected areas will begin to re-grow when the immune system rightly receives the cytokines (chemical signals) sent by the hair follicles for the hair re-growth to be restored.

The immune system mostly overcomes or rectifies the ‘autoimmune disorder’ by itself, and then the hair will grow again naturally.

Even with the treatments, immune disorders don’t need to be rectified immediately….it may take months to get back to normalcy.

A couple of popular treatments are available for promoting fast hair growth in the affected areas.


It is a top-rated medicine usually used for alopecia treatment and also for other hair loss issues. This ointment must be applied to the affected areas twice daily until satisfactory results are achieved.


This palliative medicine works on an autoimmune system that causes this hair loss disease. It is usually injected into the area of the skin where alopecia is active. After a few shots of corticosteroid corticosteroid injections in 3 to 6 weeks, the hairs usually grow faster.

This medicine is also available in ointment form for external application. This medicine in pill form is not encouraged for its possible side effects.


This is mainly used to remedy the autoimmune system that causes alopecia. It is a tar-like substance usually applied to the affected area and should be washed off after 30 minutes to one hour.


This is immunotherapy – an ointment solution that is applied to the alopecia-affected areas of the skin. This is the most successful immunotherapy treatment to date.

It is effective for alopecia cure…but it is mainly used to cause mild skin allergies and irritation in the affected areas.

The allergic reaction induced by the Diphencyprone tricks the immune system into rushing the supply of white blood cells to fight the allergen. This eventually activates and stimulates the hair follicles and helps in hair re-growth.

It is important to note that the occurrence of alopecia can be recurring. Most patients experience the recurring occurrence of this disease a couple of times before it can be cured with medication.

Natural hair loss remedies may also restrict the severity of alopecia.

In the case of Alopecia Universalis and Alopecia Totalis, the hair may never re-grow to its original status as before the hair loss. Even the hair that re-grows will not have the dark color or gray hair and will be thinner.

The duration of the re-growth of hair varies from person to person. Some patients quickly recover from the disease and return to regular hair in a few weeks or months. Some may have to wait several months to see the hair growing again despite the best treatments they could be undergoing.

Managing Alopecia and Living with It

Emotionally, it is difficult for the patient to accept the hair loss…especially alopecia, which makes a person look ugly with round patches on the scalp.

The patient’s first step is to accept reality and realize that it is the only problem that can be overcome soon.

Another option is to shave off the hair entirely and wear a cap or scarf on your head…. Shaven heads look better than ones with patches of hair loss.

Some conveniently use the occasion to get them painted with their favorite tattoos…of course, to disguise the patchy hair loss.

You can also get hairpieces made from natural human hair fixed onto nylon netting. You can fix it like a wig, and it also has a natural look.

If you are emotionally stressed, it will worsen the alopecia disease, and even more patches of hair loss will appear soon. The patient must engage in de-stressing activities and seek the help of a counselor to cope with the issue psychologically.

If you have lost the eyebrows, painting them with the assistance of a tattoo artist is good.

Finally, alopecia is not a life-threatening disease…mostly it will last only for a few months as new hairs will grow soon in the place of the lost ones.