What causes alopecia areata?


There is not one particular cause of alopecia areata and our understanding of the condition is limited, but it is linked to stress and anxiety disorders.

Alopecia is a Greek word meaning hair loss from the body or head. It is a form of baldness where patches of hair loss can be seen and can happen to any age group. For the younger generation it can be devastating and lead to depression, stress or anxiety. There is not one particular reason for this to happen, it could be due to genetics, medications, autoimmune disorders, surgery and so the list goes on. Many experience hair loss of some kind at some point in their lives whether it is hair thinning, bald patches or baldness.

The good news is that in the majority of cases the condition can be reversed. Finding the cause of the problem is the main issue and may need the help of an expert to get to the root cause. One form of hair loss is hereditary and is known as male or female pattern hair loss due to the fact that it follows a similar pattern in all. The hair starts to recede starting at the sides above the temple, and following back to form a horseshoe shape on the top of the head. The sides and back of the hair often remain. This is the pattern for men, women are different, they will find their hair starts to thin and they will go bald in patches usually on the top of the head.

Alopecia areata can be distressing but today there is help available that can reverse hair loss. Many times it is a case of biding time and letting nature do its work. When the body is stressed it requires more nutrients to help the body keep going. As the largest organ, the skin from which hair grows, is the least important and the vitamins and minerals will go to the most important organs such as the heart and liver. The hair will start to go limp and lacklustre, thin and even show signs of baldness. This is often the first indication of how the body is coping with stress and anxiety. Fortunately, once these symptoms are relieved and the body and mind back in control, the hair will begin to thicken again and go back to its normal cycle.

The hair has a three stage cycle which it goes through about 20 times in a life time. The anagen phase is the growing stage where the hair will grow approximately 1 cm a month and can stay in this active stage for up to 7 years. It then goes into the catagen phase which is the end of the active stage. This lasts for around 2-3weeks during which the hair forms into a club hair and when this is fully formed it will go into the telogen phase which is the final stage when the hair rests and can last for up to 3 months. As the club hair is finally dead it will fall out. When the body is under extreme stress more hair goes into this phase than is normal and this is when a greater hair loss can be seen.

Some people are more prone to alopecia areata than others especially if they are of a nervous nature. For some it is hard to relax and be stress free and therefore they will be prone to thinning hair. Finding time to relax, a warm bath before bed can help to promote sleep and give the body and mind time to recuperate. With some people the occurrence of alopecia areata can coincide with the seasons. During the winter season they seem to have greater hair loss and during the summer some of this hair loss regrows.

Looking after hair is a must for those who suffer alopecia areata. Find a good shampoo and conditioner that suits the hair type and has no harsh additives. Brushing out the dead hair will help to stimulate the hair follicles and encourage new growth. Trying a new hairstyle that will cover bald patches and make the hair look thicker, such as layering, will boost confidence and encourage regrowth.

For more information please see the following links:


We have recently published an excellent case study which may be of interest to those with alopecia areata.

Chris had suffered with AA for a long time before he found HIS Hair Clinic. He now has a new lease of life.


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