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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Alopecia areata

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* Not a rare disease

Other Names for this Disease

  • AA
  • Alopecia Celsi
  • Alopecia Cicatrisata
  • Alopecia Circumscripta
  • Cazenave's Vitiligo
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.

Overview

Alopecia areata (AA) is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the hair follicles. In most cases, hair falls out in small, round patches on the scalp. Although uncommon, hair loss can be more extensive in some people and affect other parts of the body. This condition can progress to complete loss of scalp hair (alopecia totalis) or total loss of all body hair (alopecia universalis).[1] Although the exact cause of AA is unknown, roughly 20% of affected people have a family member with alopecia, suggesting that genetic factors may contribute to the development of the condition.[2] There is no cure or approved therapy for AA; however, some people find that medications approved for other purposes can help regrow hair.[1]
Last updated: 11/23/2014

References

  1. Alopecia Areata: Questions and Answers About Alopecia Areata. National Institutes of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disorders (NIAMS). January 2012; http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Alopecia_Areata/. Accessed 10/30/2014.
  2. Alopecia areata. MedlinePlus. 11/20/2012; http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001450.htm.
Your Questions Answered
by the Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center

Please contact us with your questions about Alopecia areata. We will answer your question and update these pages with new resources and information.

Basic Information

  • DermNet NZ is an online resource about skin diseases developed by the New Zealand Dermatological Society Incorporated. DermNet NZ provides information about this condition.
  • MedlinePlus was designed by the National Library of Medicine to help you research your health questions, and it provides more information about this topic.
  • The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) support research into the causes, treatment, and prevention of arthritis and musculoskeletal and skin diseases, the training of basic and clinical scientists to carry out this research, and the dissemination of information on research progress in these diseases. Click on the link to view information on this topic.
  • The National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) is a federation of more than 130 nonprofit voluntary health organizations serving people with rare disorders. Click on the link to view information on this topic.

In Depth Information

  • Medscape Reference provides information on this topic. Click on the link to view this information. You may need to register to view the medical textbook, but registration is free.
  • Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM) is a catalog of human genes and genetic disorders. Each entry has a summary of related medical articles. It is meant for health care professionals and researchers. OMIM is maintained by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. 
  • PubMed is a searchable database of medical literature and lists journal articles that discuss Alopecia areata. Click on the link to view a sample search on this topic.

Resources for Kids

Other Names for this Disease
  • AA
  • Alopecia Celsi
  • Alopecia Cicatrisata
  • Alopecia Circumscripta
  • Cazenave's Vitiligo
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.