Alopecia areata
Alopecia areata is patchy baldness (alopecia means baldness and areata means occurring in patches) which typically begins with patchy hair loss on the scalp and sometimes progresses to complete baldness and even loss of body hair. The hair loss tends to be rather rapid and asymmetrical and is different than male pattern baldness. Alopecia areata affects both males and females. It tends to occur most often in children and young adults but older individuals can also be affected. The most common pattern of alopecia areata is one or more spots of hair loss on the scalp. There is also a form of more generalized thinning. When all of the scalp hair is lost, it is referred to as alopecia totalis. Loss of all of the hairs on the body is called alopecia universalis. The cause appears to involve an autoimmune mechanism. The body's own immune system attacks the hair follicles and disrupts normal hair formation. Biopsies of affected skin show lymphocytes (one of the body’s immune system cells) inside of hair follicles where lymphocytes normally are not present. What causes this is unknown. Alopecia areata is sometimes associated with other conditions (allergic disorders, thyroid disease, vitiligo, lupus, {{}}rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis). Some cases occur within family members and indicate a genetic basis. The characteristic diagnostic finding of alopecia areata is the exclamation point hair. These can be found in areas of hair loss and are short broken off hairs that are narrower closer to the scalp and therefore mimic an exclamation point. In some cases a biopsy is necessary for diagnosis. In about half of those affected, the hair regrows within a year without any treatment. The longer the period of time of hair loss, the less chance that it will regrow and a variety of treatments can be tied. Steroid injections and cream to the scalp have been used for many years. Other drugs include minoxidil, irritants, and topical immunotherapy which may be used in different combinations. A study reported in the journal Archives of Dermatology (Vol 134, 1998;1349-52) showed effectiveness of aromatherapy essential oils (cedarwood, lavender, thyme, and rosemary oils) in some patients. As with many disorders for which there is no clear cut beneficial treatment, a variety of remedies are promoted which in fact have no benefit.

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alopecia ar·e·a·ta -.ar-ē-'āt-ə, -'ät- n sudden loss of hair esp. of the scalp or face in circumscribed patches with little or no inflammation

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patchy, nonscarring, asymmetric hair loss, sometimes reversible, occurring in sharply defined areas of the scalp or beard. The etiology is unknown; in some patients there may be an autoimmune component, and in others genetic factors may play a role. See also ophiasis. Called also a. circumscripta and pelade.

Medical dictionary. 2011.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Alopecia areata — Classification and external resources Alopecia areata. ICD 10 L63 …   Wikipedia

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  • alopecia areata — noun patchy baldness • Hypernyms: ↑alopecia * * * ˌarēˈād.ə, ēˈä noun Etymology: New Latin, circumscribed baldness : sudden loss of hair in circumscribed patches accompanied by little or no inflammation * * * /ar ee ay teuh, ah teuh/, Pathol.… …   Useful english dictionary

  • alopecia areata — /ar ee ay teuh, ah teuh/, Pathol. loss of hair in circumscribed patches. [ < NL: circumscribed alopecia] * * * …   Universalium

  • alopecia areata — noun A form of alopecia in which hair is lost from various areas of the body …   Wiktionary

  • alopecia areata — /æləˌpiʃə ɛəriˈatə/ (say aluh.peeshuh airree ahtuh) noun a condition in which patches of hair fall out …   Australian English dictionary

  • Alopecia areata universal — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda La alopecia areata universal es una enfermedad autoinmune, en la cual el mismo organismo fabrica anticuerpos contra una parte del folículo capilar. En los pacientes con alopecia areata universal se pueden demostrar… …   Wikipedia Español

  • National Alopecia Areata Foundation — based in San Rafael, California is dedicated to the discovery of a cure or treatment for alopecia areata and supporting the conditions victims. It was founded in 1981.[1] References ^ Bald and Beautiful . Martinez Record, 7/22/1999. Categories:… …   Wikipedia

  • pseudo-alopecia areata — Alopecia in which mild inflammatory changes develop at the orifices of the affected hair follicles …   Medical dictionary

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