What is alopecia totalis

What is Alopecia Totalis – Facts, Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

Alopecia totalis occurs when a person suffers from complete loss of scalp hair. It is different from Alopecia areata, in which a person loses hair in small patches. In Alopecia totalis, there is complete hair loss. The condition destroys the hair follicle and hair does not re-grow. While hair on the head is affected, Alopecia totalis may affect the eyebrow and eyelashes as well. It also differs from Alopecia Universalis. The scalp and body are affected in the latter condition.

The cause of the condition can be due to disorders of the body’s auto-immune system or genetic causes. It has no cure and the rate of occurrence is about 1 in 2000 people. In this disorder, the body’s immune system attacks the hair follicle. But it is not destroyed completely. Therefore, a cure is possible. If it is due to genetic causes, the cure may not be possible.

The hair loss in the Alopecia totalis condition can be sudden or gradual. It can affect people of all ages. However, it occurs more in men than in women.


Symptoms or Alopecia totalis vary. It may begin with hair thinning and loss of hair on the scalp accompanied by irritation. It may trigger due to shock or psychological stress, in which case it will occur quickly and lead to rapid hair loss. Alopecia totalis is sometimes accompanied by brittle nails that break easily.


As I have mentioned earlier, genetics and the body’s auto-immunity system are the known causes of Alopecia totalis. The body’s immune system protects the body from diseases, but a disorder can be triggered in which the system thinks that the hair follicle is a foreign invasion and starts fighting it. It then attacks healthy cells of the body including hair follicles. It is triggered by psychological stress or shock, or certain kinds of diseases. Genetics play a part as members of certain families are known to suffer from this condition.

Hair Loss Treatment for Alopecia Totalis

The doctor will examine the head and scalp to diagnose the condition. He investigates the complete medical history of the patient regarding genetic factors, including the presence of the condition in other family members. In some cases, blood samples or a biopsy may be required.

Alopecia treatment options are few. Usually, it is difficult to know the root cause of Alopecia totalis. Hence hair loss treatments include treating the symptoms. The doctor may prescribe medications for correcting the defence system of the body.  Other hair re-growth methods include immunotherapy, steroids, or other medications, but they are not without side effects.

The doctors prescribe alopecia treatments like natural methods and oils for hair regrowth. It is essential to correct diet errors and the experts advise the patient to eat a nutritious diet rich in Vitamin E to help the hair. In other cases, wigs or a hair transplant hair loss treatment may be prescribed.

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