Alopecia areata is a condition where there is loss of hair on the scalp and/or other parts of the body. It can occur at any age.
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease, which is a type of disease where a person's own immune system attacks the body. In alopecia areata, the immune system targets the hair follicles, causing non-scarring hair loss.
Smooth round patches of hair loss is commonly seen in alopecia areata. There may be short broken off hairs at the edges of the patches of hair loss. This usually occurs on the scalp. Hair loss may occur on other parts of the body such as the beard or eyebrows. Nail changes may also be seen.
Some people have hair regrowth occur on its own, but for others, the areas of hair loss may last for years and some may not have regrowth. There is no cure for alopecia areata. Treatment may help with regrowth and can include medications that suppress the immune system, which can be applied topically or injected into areas of hair loss. Some people may have recurrent episodes of hair loss.