Alopecia (pronounced al-oh-PEA-sha) is a hair-loss disease that affects men, women and children. The onset is often sudden, random and frequently recurrent. Although not damaging to physical health, alopecia can have severe effects on quality of life and emotional health through its impact on confidence and self-esteem. Information and support, however, can play a key role in long-term coping strategies.
Alopecia affects approximately 1.7% of the population and both men and women are equally affected. About 25% of people affected have a family history of the condition.
What causes it?
The exact cause of alopecia areata isnít known, although itís generally agreed itís a disease of the immune system. There is believed to be a genetic component in some cases and a possible link with stress.
In alopecia, your immune system attacks the affected hair follicles by mistake. This halts hair growth (the anagen stage) and causes a move to resting (the telogen phase) where the hairs are then abruptly shed.