Current evidence suggests that alopecia areata is caused by an abnormality in the immune system that damages hair follicles. This particular abnormality leads to autoimmunity, a misguided immune system that tends to attack its own body. As a result, the immune system attacks particular tissues of the body. In alopecia areata, for unknown reasons, the body's own immune system attacks the hair follicles and disrupts normal hair formation. Biopsies of affected skin show immune lymphocytes penetrating into the hair bulb of the hair follicles. Alopecia areata is occasionally associated with other autoimmune conditions such as thyroid disease, vitiligo, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and ulcerative colitis. The diagnosis or treatment of these diseases is unlikely to affect the course of alopecia areata. Sometimes, alopecia areata occurs within family members, suggesting a role of genes.
I want to first write that I am not a fan of hair transplants for women, I personally think that most women with androgenetic alopecia are NOT candidates for this procedure. Having said that, I get emailed all the time from women looking for a good hair transplant surgeon. If you are deadset on having a consultation, please visit the International Alliance of Hair Restoration Surgeons. The IAHRS (http://www.iahrs.org) is an organization that selectively screens skilled and ethical hair transplant surgeons. Read my thoughts about hair transplants here.
Hello all, it feels so good to know that I am not alone in this hair battle. I started noticing hair thinning at around 16 (I had ‘horse hair’ before (thick and strong) as my mom would call it). I chalked it up to the crash diet I did at 15 where I lost about 30lbs in about 2 months…since then my hair has gotten thinner and weaker over the years. I just turned 26 and this had been the worst year for my hair. I got married in Aug and some would say it could be the stress from that event but I say NO to that. I’ve had extensive blood work done…iron, testosterone, etc etc blah blah blah…EVERYTHING came back NORMAL! It seems as if nothing can help me! This last derm I saw today just told me to stick to rogaine, and when I asked about Provillus (these pills I heard about) he said he never heard of it and to try it and let him know! I have cried so much this year! I can’t even part my hair in the middle anymore because it’s so thin..and washing it? omg that’s an emotional rollercoaster on it’s own…my scalp is always so oily and the rogain is making it worst! and so ITCHY! AND FLAKY! What can I do now? who should I see? What makes this even more bizzare is that my acne now is worst than it ever was! I was skinny with lots of hair and clear skin in HS and now? It seems I can’t lose the 15lbs I’ve packed on and this acne stuff isn’t making it better! My husband isn’t much help because he doesn’t get it..I don’t know what else to do, someone please help me.
The main symptom of alopecia areata is hair loss. Hair usually falls out in small patches on the scalp. These patches are often several centimeters or less. Hair loss might also occur on other parts of the face, like the eyebrows, eyelashes, and beard, as well as other parts of the body. Some people lose hair in a few places. Others lose it in a lot of spots.
Finally people who understands what I am going through …I am in a desperate search for doctors in the Miami/Boca Raton, Florida area. Can anyone help? I dont know yet what has been causing my hair loss…I had been loosing some hair throighout the years, and sometimes it gets lees severe but lately has just gotten worse and there is no stopping it seems. I had mt Tyroid checked by PCP a coulpe months ago and my iron level also looked normal …getting desperate. Would appreciate some help.
I am relieved to find out that I am not the only female going through this problem. Don’t get me wrong. I am sorry that you are all going through this, but I was beginning to think I was the only female with this problem. I am 22 years old and I have been experiencing hair loss for the last two years. At first, it didn’t really bother me and I imagined it wouldn’t last. Then, it progressively got worse and has continued for the last two years. I have seen my PCP, GYN as well as various Endocrinologists and ENT’s to try and get to the source of my hair loss. They have all laughed at me and told me not to worry about it. I feel like they’ve all blown me off because I’m so young; However, no one understands how emotionally and physically destructive this is! I used to have tons of hair! I was even named “Best Hair” my senior year in high school and now I am ashamed to go out in public or even look at myself. I have very little hair left and it’s ruining my life, my relationship with my boyfriend, and my ability to maintain other relationships. I am now suffering from a lot of anxiety, depression and low self esteem. I’m all out of ideas and hope! My mother suggested that I go see a dermatologist, but I wouldn’t even know who to trust with this issue. The last thing I need is another doctor looking at me like I’m crazy and thinking that because I’m so young I should just ignore it. I can’t ignore it! It has been going on for far too long and all I want is someone who will listen to me and try to help me. I live in Arizona. Do any of you know of a good dermatologist that I can go see? I hate that this is happening to me and the negative impact it has been having and will continue to have on my life. I’m afraid that it’s only going to get worse and I will wake up one day completely bald! If any of you have advice or suggestions, I would be glad to hear them!

Alopecia areata is a disease that attacks your hair follicles (the part of your skin that makes hair). In most cases, hair falls out in small, round patches about the size of a quarter. This causes only a few bare patches. Some people may lose more hair. In only a few people, the disease causes total loss of hair on the head or loss of all body hair.
My hair was healthy. No split ends and thick and tame – I could not break it. The healthy condition of my hair may be the reason that I didn’t loose all of it. My hair loss was due to a “HAIR DESTROYER” causing chemical damage, burning my scalp and my hair ( I think she used a product banned in Australia). I had bald spots on my crown the size of 50 cent pieces and the rest of my hair was singed. I lost my hair gloss, I was left with hair that was as thin a rice paper and breaking everywhere. I had severe itching on my scalp for two years. Not pleasant. I cursed her every day and still do. I bought myself a pair of hairdressing scissors and cut as much hair off as I could; and chipped into it everywhere. I do this every two weeks. Hence I will never go to a hair dresser again and have not colored my hair since December 2012 – I asked for Brown on Brown 10 vol – how could an idiot of a hair destroyer (dresser) get it so wrong. 

Alopecia areata is a disease that attacks your hair follicles (the part of your skin that makes hair). In most cases, hair falls out in small, round patches about the size of a quarter. This causes only a few bare patches. Some people may lose more hair. In only a few people, the disease causes total loss of hair on the head or loss of all body hair.
Wow, I just started doing some research on this because I have been having problems with my hair thinning on the top of my head for several years, along with some sensitivity. I went to my internal medicine Doctor and he didn’t say much, which struck me as odd… he referred me to my women’s doctor who was slightly more sypathetic but offered no suggestions other than to see a dermatologist. I have been putting it off because I feel like I am getting the run-around. I see that I am not alone!
I noticed yesterday that my scalp was fine until I went and worked out. I don’t know if sweat/oils has anything to do with it, but it started burning after that. Then this morning I seemed to quite a bit of hair – more than yesterday morning. I’m trying to get my weight down, hoping that will help the hair loss, but if I just lose more after exercising what am I supposed to do?!
Hi Lisa, hope you were able to speak with your doctor. I also talked at length with my mom and sister and feel a little better. My mom has hair but it is very thin but I forget she has had surgeries and takes a lot of meds for various conditions and she knows this has caused her hair loss. My sister has PCOS and that has made her hair thin out. I had a good appt with my dermatology nurse. She sat and talked with me and listened and was very interested and caring. I cried for about half the visit. She examined my head and does see the thinning but it isn’t consistent for androgentic alopecia and there aren’t any just out of nowhere hairloss in the family (she seemed more concerned with females than male relatives). What I haven’t stated is that I don’t handle stress well, the last time I underwent major stress was with the acne and she thinks it has taken on another form. To be as brief as I can besides taking two night classes, working full time, single mom no help from their dad ( a teen daughter and preteen son!), major stress at work, separated/divorced, financial stress, found out my dad’s prostate cancer came back, aging parents (they can’t take care of things like they used to and I’m living with them and it’s on me now), and just found my ex husband (not my kids’ dad) has lung/brain cancer and we aren’t on speaking terms and we work for the same company, oh yeah and I have new boyfriend. The last of this list happened all this month. I know I haven’t been eating well, and with the constipation if I’m severely stressed it runs right through me, then I know its bad. So she and I decided to go with biotin & a multivitamin, see my PCP she really wants me back on anti anxiety pills, I will still see him but I want to talk to him more at length because it can cause hairloss, we are continuing my 200 mg of aladactone, my orthotricyclen, eat better, I do have regrowth in my bangs. She is very concerned about my mental health (my BFF says to me “how is my ball of nerves today?” that’s how bad I am!). I know I just need to manage it better and talking to her was the first step because she too went through a stress shedding period (I do remember it, it was a year ago) and her hair is coming back in. She said it will come back for me. But for my own psychological health she said for me to get the rogaine foam for men and use it, just so I can see regrowth faster. She said they say not to use if for women because of the pregnancy issue and that isn’t a factor for me. I also had burning and itching but with the use of Nioxin it is better. She also said only wash my hair once a day (I usually do twice), and use low heat for my hair. She is going to see me in three weeks. 

I also have been experiencing hair loss for the last 6 years and it is truly devastating. It is so hard to get up in the morning and go to work I feel so embarrassed, insecure and feel like every one around me is just staring at my head. I also just came across this website and I feel every one’s pain. For a woman, it is such a terrible thing to deal with. I will pray that we can all find the solution to this terrible situation. I live in Houston, TX and will be making an appointment with an endocrinologist soon.
Alopecia areata is not contagious.[9] It occurs more frequently in people who have affected family members, suggesting heredity may be a factor.[9] Strong evidence of genetic association with increased risk for alopecia areata was found by studying families with two or more affected members. This study identified at least four regions in the genome that are likely to contain these genes.[14] In addition, alopecia areata shares genetic risk factors with other autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, and celiac disease.[3] It may be the only manifestation of celiac disease.[15][16]
Corticosteroids: This medicine suppresses the immune system. It can be given as shots, with the dermatologist injecting the medicine into the places with hair loss. Sometimes a patient gets a topical (applied to the skin) form of this medicine. It may be a cream, lotion, or ointment. The patient applies the medicine to the bare spots. Less often, patients take corticosteroid pills.

There can be several factors behind hair loss such as environmental effects, aging, too much stress, excessive smoking, nutritional deficiencies, hormonal imbalance, genetic factors, scalp infections, use of wrong or chemically enriched hair products, certain medicines and medical conditions like thyroid disorder, autoimmune diseases, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), iron-deficiency anemia, and chronic illnesses.

Triamcinolone acetonide (Kenalog), 0.1 mL diluted in sterile saline to 10 mg per mL, is injected intradermally at multiple sites within the area to a maximum dosage of 2 mL per visit.6 The main side effect, atrophy, can be minimized by not injecting too superficially and by limiting the volume per site and the frequency of injection (no more often than every four to six weeks).6 Because spontaneous resolution often occurs in patients with alopecia areata, assessing treatment response can be difficult. Intralesional steroids should be discontinued after six months if no improvement has been noted.
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