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Alopecia Areata - Patchy Hair Loss with Unpredictable Course

Written by
Dr. Suvash Sahu
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.

Published on Oct 29, 2016 and last reviewed on Aug 09, 2019   -  2 min read


Alopecia areata is a common form of hair loss affecting the quality of life of many patients. Here, I have discussed the causes, presentation and management of this disease.

Alopecia Areata - Patchy Hair Loss with Unpredictable Course

Alopecia areata is a unique self-limiting disorder characterized by areas of asymptomatic, non-scarring and non-inflammatory hair loss, commonly involving the scalp.


Alopecia areata presents as a localized patchy hair loss. Usually, the patch will be smooth and well circumscribed and often noticed by chance. It is an autoimmune disorder affecting the hair follicles and it is often associated with other autoimmune disorders like thyroid diseases, vitiligo, etc.

Types of Alopecia

Alopecia is of three types.

  1. Alopecia totalis - Loss of all the scalp hair.
  2. Alopecia universalis - Loss of hair from all hair bearing areas.
  3. Alopecia ophiasis - Loss of hair from the margins of the scalp.

Course of Alopecia

The course is unpredictable. Some patients may show complete recovery whereas in others the regrowth never takes place. Early age of onset, alopecia ophiasis and severe nail involvement have a poor prognosis.

Clinical Features

There are well-defined single or multiple round to oval areas of hair loss, which can affect any hair bearing area. In active lesions, exclamation mark hair may be seen around the margins. These are hair, which have a wide tip and narrow atrophic roots.

Nail changes may be present in 10% to 20% of cases in the form of geometric pitting (small, superficial and regularly distributed pits), geometric punctate leukonychia (multiple white spots in a grill pattern) and trachyonychia (sandpaper nails).


To know more about alopecia, consult an alopecia areata specialist online -->


Last reviewed at:
09 Aug 2019  -  2 min read




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