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Finding Out More About Alopecia Areata, Alopecia Totalis And Alopecia Universalis

By Gary Moyle

Alopecia is a general term referring to hair loss which usually affects the scalp. However there are many different types of Alopecia, all with different effects on the body and that require different treatments. This article focuses on some of the most rapid and devastating types of Alopecia, namely Alopecia Areata, Alopecia Totalis and Alopecia Universalis.

So how prevalent are these types of Alopecia? Well according to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation (NAAF) these common but very challenging diseases affect approximately 1.7 percent of the population overall, including more than 4.7 million people in the United States alone. A figure of close to a million has recently been suggested for the United Kingdom population alone and as we can see it’s a lot more common than we think.

These three types of Alopecia result in very different types of hair loss and it is important to be able to distinguish between them. The term Alopecia Areata is used to describe hair loss occurring in patches anywhere on the body however this condition almost always occurs on the scalp. Alopecia Totalis refers to total loss of the hair on the scalp and Alopecia Universalis, the most extreme form of Alopecia results in complete loss of all hair on the body.

The most current medical studies have concluded that these three types of Alopecia are caused by an abnormality in the immune system. The result is the immune system attacks particular tissues of the body. In Alopecia Areata, for as yet unknown reasons, the body's own immune system, attacks the hair follicles and disrupts normal hair growth.

There has been no scientific evidence to show that the disease is caused by nerves or stress and it has become obvious that the condition isn’t a classic nervous disorder. Alopecia sufferers’ have no control over when attacks of Alopecia will strike and it is this totally unpredictable nature of the disease that makes it so hard to deal with.

These forms of Alopecia have no major physical side effects and if sufferers are living a healthy lifestyle, eat well and don’t smoke they will probably be in very good health. The only noticeable side affect with Alopecia is a stippling on the nails in some people, similar to tiny dents or scratches and although a small amount of people have nails that are severely distorted this is rare. Other reports of side effects include itching around the areas of hair loss during the initial hair loss phase however this resides as time goes by.

With regards to whether Alopecia is a hereditary condition, sometimes Alopecia can occur within family members, suggesting a role of genes and heredity. In fact about 25% of people with alopecia have a family history of the disorder.

According to the NAAF if an adult over the age of thirty develops the condition then the risk of passing the condition on to another family member is reduced, however as most alopecia sufferers are children and young adults the risk is increased. Despite the increased risk only one in five sufferers’ has other family members with the disease.

Regarding treatment of these types of Alopecia it is widely recognised that there is no known cure for the disease but the good news is that hair growth can be stimulated by several treatments and can even occur after several years of extensive hair loss. Its unpredictable nature can even lead to spontaneous re-growth without treatment.

This article should give you a good understanding of Alopecia Areata, Alopecia Totalis and Alopecia Universalis.

About The Author
Gary Moyle has been living with Alopecia for over 25 years and been writing about health matters for over 10 years. Gary designed and produced one of the internet’s best Alopecia websites.

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