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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Alopecia areata


* Not a rare disease
Other Names for this Disease
  • AA
  • Alopecia Celsi
  • Alopecia Cicatrisata
  • Alopecia Circumscripta
  • Cazenave's Vitiligo
More Names
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Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the hair follicles. This can lead to hair loss on the scalp and elsewhere on the body. In most cases, hair falls out in small, round patches on the scalp. Although uncommon, hair loss can be more extensive in some people. This condition can progress to cause total loss of hair on the head (alopecia totalis) or complete loss of hair on the head, face, and body (alopecia universalis). While there is neither a cure for nor drugs approved for treatment, some people find that medications approved for other purposes can help their hair grow back.[1]
Last updated: 5/9/2011


  1. Alopecia Areata: Questions and Answers About Alopecia Areata. National Institutes of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disorders (NIAMS). January 2012; Accessed 5/8/2012.
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Basic Information

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  • Medscape Reference provides information on this topic. Click on the link to view this information. You may need to register to view the medical textbook, but registration is free.
  • The Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM) is an catalog of human genes and genetic disorders. Each entry has a summary of related medical articles. It is meant for health care professionals and researchers. OMIM is maintained by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. 
  • PubMed is a searchable database of medical literature and lists journal articles that discuss Alopecia areata. Click on the link to view a sample search on this topic.

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