What is Alopecia totalis ?
Alopecia totalis is a skin condition that causes hair loss from the head, eventually resulting in complete baldness. It is different from the condition alopecia areata that causes hair to fall out in small clumps around the scalp, although it may start out that way. It is also different from the most severe form of alopecia universalis, which causes complete hair loss throughout the body.
The biggest symptom of alopecia totalis is the complete loss of all hair on the head. This often begins with hair falling out in small patches before it quickly spreads throughout the entire head. Those who have alopecia totalis may also have brittle, pitted nails.
Causes and Risk Factors
Doctors aren’t sure what causes alopecia totalis, although it is understood to be an immune system problem. In this case, the immune system attacks the healthy hair follicles on the head, causing the hair to fall out.
Alopecia totalis can affect anybody, but it is most common in children and adults under 40 years of age. Some people may also have a genetic predisposition for alopecia, so you are more likely to develop the condition if someone in your family has it.
Fortunately, there are treatment options for those living with alopecia. These include corticosteroids to help suppress the immune system, topical immunotherapy, Rogaine, and ultraviolet light therapy. Your doctor can help determine which of these treatment options will be best for you.
Alopecia can be either temporary or permanent, but odds of stopping or even reversing your hair loss are greater if you begin treatment soon after your diagnosis. Even though the condition is not life-threatening, the loss of one’s hair can be devastating. If you find it difficult to cope with this condition, ask your doctor about support groups near you, and always remember that you are not alone.