Alopecia means hair loss, but it’s usually used to refer to alopecia areata. While lots of things can cause hair loss, alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition where your body mistakenly attacks healthy cells, causing your hair to thin or fall out.1
Alopecia is quite common, affecting about 0.15% of people in the UK.2 It’s a chronic condition, meaning it lasts for a long time.
The main symptom of alopecia is hair loss. But not everyone will experience hair loss from alopecia in the same way.
Alopecia can cause hair loss anywhere on your body, but it most often affects the scalp, beard, eyelashes and eyebrows.3
Most people with alopecia lose patches of hair. It is rare for people with alopecia to lose all of their scalp or body hair.3
About 10–15% of people with alopecia also experience nail changes, like pitting or ridging on the nails.3
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- Branch NSC and O. Alopecia Areata. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Published April 4, 2017. Accessed April 19, 2023. https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/alopecia-areata
- Alopecia areata | Health topics A to Z | CKS | NICE. Accessed April 19, 2023. https://cks.nice.org.uk/topics/alopecia-areata/
- Definition | Background information | Alopecia areata | CKS | NICE. Accessed April 19, 2023. https://cks.nice.org.uk/topics/alopecia-areata/background-information/definition/
- Causes | Background information | Alopecia areata | CKS | NICE. Accessed April 19, 2023. https://cks.nice.org.uk/topics/alopecia-areata/background-information/causes/
- Prognosis | Background information | Alopecia areata | CKS | NICE. Accessed April 19, 2023. https://cks.nice.org.uk/topics/alopecia-areata/background-information/prognosis/
- Treatments for Alopecia Areata. Alopecia UK. Published July 22, 2020. Accessed April 19, 2023. https://www.alopecia.org.uk/Pages/FAQs/Category/treatments-for-alopecia-areata
Reviewed by: Mital Thakrar
Review date: April 2023
Next review: April 2026