What is Alopecia?

Alopecia areata is a common disease that results in the loss of hair on the scalp and elsewhere on the body. There are three types of alopecia areata; alopecia areata, alopecia areata totalis and alopecia areata universalis.

In all forms of alopecia areata, the hair follicles remain alive and are ready to resume normal hair production whenever they receive the appropriate signal. In all cases, hair regrowth may occur even without treatment and even after many years.

Alopecia Areata Patchy

Alopecia areata, the most common variation of the autoimmune disease, presents itself as round, smooth patches of various sizes.

Alopecia Areata Totalis

Alopecia areata totalis presents itself as total loss of hair on the scalp

Alopecia Areata Universalis

Alopecia areata universalis is the rarest form of alopecia areata and presents itself as the loss of hair over the entire scalp and body. Reference: https://www.naaf.org/alopecia-areata/types-of-alopecia-areata

Alopecia Areata in Children

Alopecia areata is a common condition that occurs in males and females of all ages, buy young persons are affected most often. The alopecia areata experience varies with age and can be especially difficult, for the patient as well as the parent, when it presents itself during childhood. The National Alopecia Areata Foundation has many programs created to ease the burden of the entire family when a child is diagnosed with alopecia areata.

14 year old A’Miracle Law suffers with alopecia areata, but she has learned to love herself in the midst of her adversaries. Read her story on our blog.

Children under the age of five

Children under the age of five react very little to their alopecia areata, having very little impact if any. The preschool child is so busy exploring their world, acquiring skills and gaining independence, that his appearance is insignificant to himself and his peers. His hairloss may be an interesting anomaly, and nothing more; most likely his peers will not take much notice to this difference.

Children ages six through twelve

Between the ages of six and twelve, children have gained experience and interacted with enough people to grasp the idea that views of the world differ, and that it is important to pay attention to what others think and feel. While this ability to see things as others do helps children become more empathetic and considerate, it also tends to make children more self-conscious. Children at this stage of development are much more concerned about how others view them, how they may differ from others, and whether others might be making fun of them. Since children at this age have become so aware of individual differences, they unfortunately are more likely to poke fun at those who don’t’ fit their definition of ‘normal’.

14 year old A’Miracle Law

Even if a child has had alopecia areata since infancy, he now faces new problems of adjustment. Peers are becoming a more significant part of his life and the desire to ‘fit in’ is becoming stronger. Even a child with a very healthy self-concept may feel threatened. However if a child feels good about herself and has at least one skill she enjoys and is passionate about, the odds are increased that she will deal successfully with these difficulties. Reference: https://www.naaf.org/alopecia-areata/alopecia-areata-in-children


Alopecia Areata and Autoimmunity

Alopecia areata results when the body’s immune system attacks healthy hair follicles by mistake. Alopecia areata is often likened to a “swarm of bees” in the form of specific T cells that attack the hair follicle. Normal hair follicles are hidden from immune recognition and enjoy a state of immune privilege or protection from autoimmune attack. The collapse of this immune privilege is what allows the swarm of T cells to attack in alopecia areata. We do not know what activates the autoimmune reaction in alopecia areata but research suggests it is a combination of genetic susceptibility and environmental triggers outside the body, such as bacteria or viruses, which may signal changes that confuse the immune system. Reference: https://www.naaf.org/alopecia-areata/alopecia-areata-autoimmunity