Alopecia Areata

This information is useful for children, adults, and older adults
Someone with alopecia combing back black hair to reveal a bald spot.

“Alopecia” means hair loss, and that includes everything from common male-pattern baldness to chemotherapy-induced hairlessness to patchy bald spots appearing out of the blue to the complete loss of all scalp, facial and body hair.

When patients come to Yale Medicine seeking treatment for alopecia areata, they have a form of hair loss that is an autoimmune disease. Yale Medicine doctors are at the forefront of research on alopecia areata and see patients who travel from around the world for treatment. It is a condition affects about two out of 100 people and causes symptoms that may wax and wane over a patient’s lifetime.

In patients with alopecia areata, hair follicles release a chemical message that causes the immune system to attack them. This causes the hairs in those follicles to fall out. As long as the immune system is fighting the follicles, new hair will not grow.