Alopecia is hair loss. One of the more common types is alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder that causes round bald spots on the scalp, beard or other areas of the body. The immune system attacks the hair follicles, causing the follicles to shrink, which slows or stops hair production.

This type of hair loss is more common in children or young adults, but it can occur at any age and to people of all genders and skin tones. It is not contagious.

People who have a first-degree relative with a history of alopecia areata are more likely to develop it. Sometimes, the condition is caused by a combination of genes and environment. For example, pregnancy, extreme stress and trauma can be triggers if the person has a family history.

For some people, the hair grows back and they never have another episode. The damage to the affected hair follicles is not permanent. However, it’s more common for someone to lose their hair, regrow it and then have it fall out again. For those who do experience hair regrowth, the hair may be white and fine in texture initially. It eventually returns to its original color.

There is no cure for alopecia, though the condition may resolve on its own.

A number of treatments are available, including corticosteroids, topical minoxidil 5% solution (more commonly known by the brand name Rogaine), anthralin cream, topical immunotherapy medications and immunomodulators.

Surgical Dermatology Group offers treatments to help people regrow their hair. With treatment, it’s possible to see some regrowth in six weeks. However, it takes months for full regrowth.

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