Alopecia Areata is an auto-immune disease that causes hair loss in various forms - from patchy to full body. It can affect anyone, any gender, any age - and everyone's experience with it is different. According to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation (NAAF) it impacts about 6.8 million people in the USA.
There is no cure for Alopecia Areata, however there are a variety of treatment options depending on the type of alopecia and the extent of the hairloss. Frustrating not all treatments work for everyone.
There are three main categories of Alopecia Areata:
Alopecia areata patchy — The most common form, with one or more coin-sized hairless patches on the scalp or other areas of the body
Alopecia totalis — Total loss of the hair on the scalp
Alopecia universalis — Complete loss of hair on the scalp, face and body
If you're looking for support or information, NAAF is a good place to start. There are similar organizations in other countries as well, listed below.
Other Forms of Hair Loss
While all forms of hair loss are Alopecia (the partial or complete absence of hair from areas of the body where it normally grows; baldness) not all are Alopecia Areata. There are a number of different conditions that are related to or can cause hair loss. I've listed some other examples below:
Trichotillomania - This often complex disorder manifests in an individual pulling at their hair compulsively, leading to observable hair loss.
Traction Alopecia - A hair loss condition resulting from damage to the hair follicle from continuous tension or pulling over a lengthy period of time. It usually happens in people who put on braids that are tight result in pulling, high tension and hair breakage.
Androgenic Alopecia - Also known as male pattern baldness for men this form of hair loss is described as the loss or thinning of hair on the head's crown or hairline shrinking from the temples. Some hair may remain or hair may keep on falling out, leading to complete baldness as time passes.