The exact cause of AU is unknown. AU is an advanced form of alopecia areata (AA), a condition that leads to round patches of hair loss. The most widely accepted hypothesis is that AA is an autoimmune condition in which a person's immune system mistakenly attacks the hair follicles.
While genetic studies have found that AA and AU are associated with several immune-related genes, they are likely ultimately caused by the interaction of multiple genetic and environmental factors. This means that even if someone inherits a genetic predisposition to the condition (susceptibility), they may not develop the condition unless something in the environment triggers its onset. However, the exact role of environmental factors is yet to be determined. Factors that may trigger the onset or recurrence of hair loss may include a viral infection, trauma, hormonal changes, and emotional or physical stress.
To our knowledge, estimates of the number of people with alopecia areata who eventually develop alopecia unversalis or totalis range from 7% to 25%.
Last updated: 10/3/2017
What are the signs and symptoms of alopecia universalis?
AU is characterized by the complete loss of hair on both the scalp and body. Most people with AU do not have other signs and symptoms, but some may experience a burning or itching sensation. In some cases, AU can be associated with other conditions such as atopic dermatitis, thyroid disorders, and/or nail changes (such as pitting). Anxiety, personality disorders, depression, and paranoid disorders are more common in people with different forms of alopecia areata.
Last updated: 9/23/2017
We hope this information is helpful. We strongly recommend you discuss this information with your doctor. If you still have questions, please