The typical pattern is one or more bald patches appear on the scalp or any other part of the body. These tend to be around in shape, and about the size of a large coin. A Family member, friend, or hairdresser may be the first person to notice the bare patch or patches. Apart from the hairless patch, the scalp usually looks healthy. In few cases, the patient may feel redness, scaling, mild burning, or a slight itchy feeling on an affected part. Quite often the bald patch or patches re-grow hair within a few months. If hair grows back it may not have its primary color and looks grey or white. The original color eventually returns after several months. Sometimes, the initial hairless patch re-grows hair whilst a new bare patch is developing. Often several small hairless patches develop and merge into a larger bald area. Patches on body hair, beard, eyebrows, or eyelashes can be seen in some cases. Large bald patches develop in some people. Whole scalp hair loss is known as alopecia totalis and complete body hair loss is known as alopecia universalis. The nails are affected in about 1 in five cases and can become pitted or a bald patch first develops, it is difficult to predict how it will progress. Alopecia areata behaves in a different way in everyone. However below are the classifications of how it may progress.
I am 54 years old and experiencing alopecia areata since last year. I had a sudden period of extreme stress that may have prompted the loss, but had also tried a medicine for a nail fungus around the same time. I see one doctor (a rheumatologist ) for a possible lupus diagnosis ( lupus is difficult to diagnose) and my primary care doctor was also treating me for hypothyroidism since I was gaining weight, and had increased my dosage from a very low beginning strength to a slight increase. With all of that going on I am not sure what the exact cause of the hair loss was. I stopped all medications immediately. I jokingly told my doctor that I can handle being fat, I"m ok with getting old, but old, fat and bald wasn"t going to work for me. My other doctor did some blood work and suggested I take zinc supplements , and things improved. The nail fungus went away, my hair started re-growing, and I perked up a little despite being off the thyroid medicines. Just this week I noticed a quarter sized spot which is increasing in size, and I"m back online searching for answers. The only changes this time is that I had changed brands of zinc, maybe it"s time to go back to what was working.
Losing one's hair can be a devastating experience, particularly because it develops suddenly and the loss is difficult to hide. Patients who have difficulty with the psychosocial impact of losing their hair should speak to a healthcare provider about their feelings. Providers can offer support and may recommend that a patient work with a therapist, clinical psychologist, or support group; individual and group therapy can help patients adjust and cope with hair loss, and may also provide tips on cosmetic coverings. In addition, patients can contact organizations such as the National Alopecia Areata Foundation ( ) and Alopecia UK ( ) for information on alopecia areata and support resources.