Alopecia areata or patchy hair loss is a is a relatively common condition that occurs in a form of clearly defined, round hairless patches on the scalp, but also on other hairy parts of the body.
It is not fully known what causes this condition, a genetic predisposition is important, but it can be also triggered by other factors, such as emotional stress and other undefined factors.
It is most likely an autoimmune disease that is often associated with other autoimmune diseases such as vitiligo and thyroid disease.
Alopecia — Clinical picture
Alopecia usually begins in the form of a single patch on the scalp from which most of the hairs suddenly fall off. The skin in that place is unchanged, with no signs of inflammation, and the hair around the hairless area can easily be pulled out.
Alopecia usually begins between the ages of 5. and 30 . The first changes usually affect the scalp, but they can also occur in the eyebrows, eyelashes, men’s beard, as well as on the rest of the skin.
When hair falls out around sides and lower back of the scalp this condition is called ophiasis, when the whole scalp is affected it is total alopecia, and the loss of all body hair is referred to as universal alopecia and their prognosis is worse than alopecia areata.
In addition to the hairy parts, this condition can also occur on the nails in the form of pointed depressions and nail furrows.
Treatment and prognosis of the disease
In localised cases, the treatment is successful, while the prognosis is worse in cases that began before puberty, as well as with ophiasis, universal and total alopecia.
In localised alopecia, a spontaneous hair growth can occur after a few months.
From local therapy, corticosteroids are used either topically or intralesionally, immunomodulators, irritants, minoxidil. In persistent cases, a systemic corticosteroid therapy will be also applied.