Alopecia is an acquired skin disease that can affect all hair-bearing skin and is characterized by localized areas of non-scarring alopecia (hair loss). Alopecia is occasionally associated with other medical problems. Most often these bald areas regrow their hair spontaneously. Alopecia is rare before 3 years of age. There seems to be a significant inherited predisposition for the development of alopecia areata.
A number of factors can increase your risk of hair loss, including:
• Family history of balding, in either of your parent's families
• Significant weight loss
• Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes and lupus
The main symptom of alopecia is hair loss. Hair usually falls out in small patches on the scalp. These patches are often several centimeters or less. Hair loss might also occur on other parts of the face, like the eyebrows, eyelashes, and beard, as well as other parts of the body. Some people lose hair in a few places. Others lose it in a lot of spots. You may first notice clumps of hair on your pillow or in the shower. If the spots are on the back of your head, someone may bring it to your attention. However, other types of diseases can also cause hair to fall out in a similar pattern. Hair loss alone isn’t used to diagnose alopecia areata. In rare cases, some people may experience more extensive hair loss. This is usually an indication of another type of alopecia, such as:
• alopecia totalis, which is the loss of all hair on the scalp
• alopecia universalis, which is the loss of all hair on the entire body
Hair-loss prevention depends on the underlying cause. Good hair hygiene with regular shampooing is a basic step but is probably of little benefit. Good nutrition, especially adequate levels of iron and vitamin B, is helpful. Treatment of underlying medical conditions like thyroid disease, anemia, and hormonal imbalances may useful in prevention.