Alopecia areata is a common disorder that results in patchy hairloss on the scalp. The hair follicles are still present and hair can regrow if the cells get the correct signals. Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system attacks the hair follicles by mistake. We do not know what activates the immune system but researchers believe that it is a combination of genetic and environmental causes such as bacteria or viruses which may confuse the immune system into attacking its own cells.
Bald areas of alpopecia will often regrow with no treatment. Treatments that can help speed the process include intralesional steroid injections, topical minoxidil, and anthralin for milder cases (less than 50% hair loss) . And oral steroids and topical immunotherapy for more severe cases. Wigs can be used to hide the hairloss while undergoing treatment.
Alopecia areata can wax and wane. While patients are usually physically healthy, emotionally, alopecia can be distressing. The National Alopecia Areata Foundation offers information and support to anyone suffering from alopecia.