What Is Alopecia Areata?

What exactly Alopecia Areata? Since this website is based on seeing Alopecia from many perspectives, I thought I would start with explaining what Alopecia is.

Here are some facts:

(I got these numbers and facts from NAAF.org, to me the most trusted place for Alopecia Areata information)

  • “Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease, which means your immune system mistakes the normal cells in your body as foreign invaders and attacks these cells.”
    • My perspective: So my immune system sees my hair follicles as intruders and must attack and destroy on sight.
  • “Scientists aren’t exactly sure what ‘triggers’ the immune system to attack healthy hair follicles when people have alopecia areata, or even if these triggers first happen inside the body (from a virus or bacteria), outside the body (from something in your surroundings) or if it’s a combination of both.”
    • My perspective: Ok so we have no idea why Alopecia happens and where the disease comes from. Seems in a small way like a lottery of who will be diagnosed and present symptoms and who won’t. I have a half sister who everyone says is almost exactly like me, same sarcastic tone, corny sense of humor, facial features, but the only difference is she has a completely full head of hair that will not stop growing.
  • “6.8 million people in the U.S. — 147 million people worldwide — are affected by Alopecia Areata with a lifetime risk of 2.1%”
    • My perspective: This means that 2.1% of the population are at risk for having Alopecia, but in reality roughly 400,000 (.05%) are currently diagnosed with the autoimmune disease and living with the symptoms.

When hair starts to fall out the pattern, intensity, and recurrence is different for everyone. The up and down swings my hair loss takes can be completely different for someone else my same age with Alopecia.

The onset of Alopecia symptoms can happen at anytime of the diagnosed person’s life. I have been told many times by Dermatologists that they believe stress, or a change in hormones (puberty, menopause, or other moments in your life) can heighten the symptoms. I’ll be completing further research on this train of thought, and other hypotheses on why and how Alopecia is the autoimmune disease that has more questions than answers so stay tuned!