What is alopecia areata?
Alopecia (al-oh-PEE-shah) areata (ar-ee-AH-tah) is a recurrent nonscarring type of hair loss that occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks hair follicles, which is where hair growth begins. It can affect any hair-bearing area, may manifest in many different patterns, and more than one area can be affected at once. Frequency of involvement at particular sites is as follows:
- Scalp – 66.8%-95%
- Beard – 28% of males
- Eyebrows – 3.8%
- Extremities – 1.3%
Although it is a benign condition and most patients are asymptomatic, it can cause emotional and psychosocial distress. Self-consciousness concerning personal appearance can become important. Openly addressing these issues through support groups is important in helping them cope with the condition. The damage to the follicle is usually not permanent. Experts do not know why the immune system attacks the follicles. Alopecia areata (AA) is most common in people younger than 20, but children and adults of any age may be affected. Peak incidence appears to occur from age 15-29 years. As many as 44% of people with alopecia areata have onset at younger than 20 years. Onset in patients older than 40 years is seen in less than 30% of patients with alopecia areata. Data concerning the sex ratio for alopecia areata vary slightly in the literature. In one study including 736 patients, a male-to-female ratio of 1:1 was reported. In another study on a smaller number of patients, a slight female preponderance was seen. This disorder most often occurs in otherwise healthy people. Read more…
It’s scary to ride a roller-coaster by ourselves, we often want to have a friend or a group of friends to experience the ride with us. Experiencing alopecia can also be quite a roller-coaster and many of us go through the emotional ride all by ourselves with no support. When I started slowly but surely losing my hair 4 years ago, it became chaos in both my physical world but also in my mental world and I had no one to turn to — I was riding the roller-coaster all by myself. Read more…
One of the most common questions that comes up in our online alopecia support group is “does stress cause alopecia?” I always cringe when I see the word ’cause’ because quite honestly, if researchers knew the exact ’cause’ then they would be able to find a ‘cure.’ I would much rather see the use of the word ‘trigger’ instead of ’cause.’ Learning to look at the four pillars of all autoimmune disorders and how they work may help to unravel the correlation between stress and alopecia areata. After having alopecia areata for over 40 years, stepping back and looking at these four pillars helped me learn not to look for one specific trigger but start focusing on the whole picture… Read more…
The focus of World Alopecia Community, Inc. is to enhance the overall well-being of those affected by all forms of alopecia, through evidence-based education, wellness activities, and community support. We want to teach people to not just live with alopecia but how to thrive. One of the best stories I’ve heard over the past few years is the story of Bridgid Dunn Weber. Diagnosed with androgenetic alopecia (AGA), Bridgid struggled for years to reverse or hide her hair loss… until one day she decided to let go and learn to thrive!
Q. At what age did you start noticing your hair loss?
I was in my early thirties. My ex husband joked that I looked like I was going bald. He thought it was funny but as the hair loss on the top of my scalp became more diffuse no one was laughing. It progressed over the course of 20 years gradually. The Ludwig scale illustration perfectly depicts how my loss progressed. I don’t have pictures of my early hair loss because I would not allow myself to be seen in public without having Toppik or Dermatch or some other concealer on my scalp. My pattern of hair loss now mirrors the illustration entitled “Type III.”
Ludwig Scale of Female Androgenetic Alopecia (AGA)
Q. What treatments did you try to stop the hair loss?
I used biotin, hair vitamins, tried Paleo and gluten-free diet (lost weight and felt great but it didn’t do a damn thing for my hair.). I tried Nioxin products, Rogaine, and spironolactone. I visited medical doctors, dermatologists, and even an endocrinologist. Read more…
The term ‘Alopecia’ derives from the Greek ‘alopex’ which means fox. This animal is well known for losing its hair/fur in patches in autumn and spring. But there are lots of different types of alopecia…
Ludwig Hair Loss Classification Scale for men and women.
For example, androgenetic alopecia (AGA, commonly referred to as ‘pattern baldness’) usually follows a pattern of receding hairline and hair thinning on the crown. It is different then the other types of alopecia because it is caused by hormones and genetic predisposition. Read more…
We have some fabulous events coming up in July, all happening in Washington, DC. The first event will on July 15 from 12:00pm to 4:00pm. Our Picnic on the Mall is a family-friendly FREE event. Bring your own food and beverages or purchase a boxed lunch at the concession stands located on The Mall. The picnic is open to adults and children. Visit our Events Calendar to learn more.
That evening, join us for an evening of fun, frolic and fabulous food at The Dubliner located within The Phoenix Park Hotel, just one block from the beautiful Union Station. Dinner begins at 6:30pm and ends at 9:00pm but feel free to stay longer and listen to live music by Brian Gaffney. The Dubliner is America’s premier Irish pub, established in 1974, serves hearty Hibernian fare including their world famous Fish’n’Chops and Irish Beef Stew. Click here for ticket information and to reserve your seat!
A stay in Washington, DC is not complete until you have visited world’s largest museum, education, and research complex. We will also be sponsoring a Family Fun Day on July 16 for an afternoon touring the National Air and Space Museum (one of my personal favorites and always a hit with kids!). The Smithsonian is a free museum and open to the public. The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum maintains the world’s largest and most significant collection of aviation and space artifacts, encompassing all aspects of human flight, as well as related works of art and archival materials. It operates two landmark facilities that, together, welcome more than eight million visitors a year, making it the most visited museum in the country. It also is home to the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies. Visit our Events Calendar to learn more.
We look forward to seeing you there! Questions? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alopecia areata (AA) is a medical condition in which the immune system attacks the hair follicles, resulting in hair loss. Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with both AA and androgenetic alopecia (AGA) in past studies. It is hypothesized that vitamin D’s anti-inflammatory properties, and its role in epidermal cell proliferation may be responsible for its role in inflammatory and skin conditions such as AA and AGA. Additionally, AA has been linked to a mutation to the VDR gene. However, no studies to date have evaluated whether VDR levels are linked with alopecia; therefore, researchers recently sought to find out if the VDRs in the skin and blood could serve as a potential pathogenic marker for these conditions. Read more…
One of the best things about being part of a global alopecia community is that we enjoy meeting people who also have alopecia and are learning to thrive with alopecia every day, every where in the world. For this installment, we’re visiting with Amy Johnson, the Communications/Fundraising Manager of Alopecia UK, a charity organization based in the UK whose vision is to improve the lives of those affected by alopecia.
Alopecia is something in my life, but isn’t something that should change the person I am.
Q. When were you diagnosed with alopecia areata?
I first had two small patches of Alopecia Areata in October 2007. They quickly grew back. By 2010, I had lost everything. I have experienced different degrees of patchy regrowth since 2012.
Q. How has alopecia changed you as an individual?
I’d like to think that alopecia hasn’t changed me too much. I take the approach that alopecia is something in my life, but isn’t something that should change the person I am. Saying that, it has had a BIG impact on me in that I have ended up working for an alopecia charity so I suppose you could argue it has become my life! Read more…
For Mother’s Day, we had a chance to chat with Angie who tells us what it’s like being a mother with alopecia and how she’s learned to thrive.
Q. How long have you been living with alopecia?
I have been living with alopecia since 2012. I first noticed it right in the middle of my front hairline. I also have diffuse loss all over my head that has gotten progressively worse over the years. I have been wearing wigs/hair pieces since March of 2013. I decided to “come out” about my alopecia and buzz my remaining hair in January 2016 and I currently rotate between looks – I mostly wear wigs at work, scarves or hats when out at other times, and just rock my patchy buzz cut at home. Read more…
Oftentimes when people are first diagnosed, it’s because they find a bald spot which may lead them to believe that alopecia areata is specifically about their hair and the loss of it. However, alopecia areata is more about the immune system than it is about the hair follicle itself.
Certain portions of the human body have ‘immune privilege,’ meaning they are able to tolerate the introduction of foreign substances without eliciting an inflammatory immune response. Our hair follicles (primarily the epithelium surrounding the hair follicles) are part of the skin immune system. Our skin immune system is constantly signaling and talking to keep our lymphocytes at bay — letting them know that they are, indeed, supposed to be there. Read more…