Can You Treat Alopecia Areata?

My son has Alopecia Areata. How or what are the symptoms? Is it just loosing all the body hair?

Doctor Answers 8

Can you treat alopecia areata? Often the answer is yes!!

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition that affects about 1.7 % of the world’s population. To determine the chances of success with treatment, you really want to sit down with a hair loss dermatologist who treats a lot of patients. Yes, success is possible for many patients. Treatment success is sometimes a bit lower in children than adults, but not always. 

Most patients with alopecia areata don't have symptoms. A small proportion have a bit of itching before the hair is lost in a particular area. Any hair on the body can be lost (scalp, eyebrow, eyelash, body hair, nose hair, pubic hair) but most often it's just the scalp hair. 

In general about one half those who develop alopecia areata will experience hair loss before the age of 20. So it's quite common for alopecia areata to start in children. This condition is a type of an autoimmune condition, meaning that the body’s own immune system is attacking the hairs. Many of my patients really want to know the cause when the come in for their appointments the exact cause, however is still unknown.TYPES OF ALOPECIA AREATA There is alot of somewhat confusing language when it comes to alopecia areata
  1. patchy alopecia areata refers to the development of a limited number of patches (circular areas of hair loss) on the scalp 
  2. Alopecia totalis refers to all the scalp hair being lost.
  3. Alopecia universalis refers to loss of scalp hair as well as all body hair.
  4. Ophiasis refers to a type of alopecia where the hair at the back of the head is lost.

When it comes to treatment, you really want to meet a hair loss dermatologist. They can offer the widest array of treatments possible.  Treatments help some patients to regrow hair. Hair loss might occur in the future - but if just small areas are lost, then localized treatments might help get the hair back again. 

a) If patients have limited areas of hair loss, treatments include:
  • steroid injections
  • minoxidil (Rogaine)
  • 6-8 weeks of Prednisone
b) If more widesread areas of hair loss are present, treatments include:
  • anthralin
  • diphencyprone
  • squaric acid
  • methotrexate
  • sulfasalazine
  • steroid injections
  • cyclosporine (rare)
  • prednisone 

Vancouver Dermatologist

One treatment option for Alopecia Areata is Scalp MicroPigmentation.

One treatment option for alopecia areata is Scalp MicroPigmentation.  Many patients with Alopecia Areata or Alopecia Totalis have had Scalp MicroPigmentation.

Jae Pak, MD
Los Angeles Hair Restoration Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 90 reviews

Alopecia areata treatment

Alopecia areata (aa) is an autoimmune disease where ones own immune system attacks the hair follicles and at times the nails. Aa is a spectrum of conditions from an occasional patch of baldness in one's beard that manages to regrow on its own to complete loss of every hair follicle on the body. If you have one, it does not mean you will progress to the more extensive form. The most important thing is to seek treatment quickly and work up any underlying causes. Labs I like to run include thyroid hormone, iron levels, ferritin, ana. Also I take a very detailed history including any food or respiratory allergies. Any internal imbalances or abnormalities need to be rectified to help regrow hair. Hair transplantation is not a treatment for alopecia areata. For treatment, I like to use topical steroid solutions, rogain, and injectable steroids. This needs to be done by a dermatologist adept in hair loss. It generally takes over four months to see hair growth.

Omeed Memar, MD, PhD
Chicago Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 36 reviews

Alopecia Areata Is Treatable But Can be More Difficult to Treat in Younger Hair Loss Sufferers

I’m sorry to hear that your son is experiencing hair loss. Because Alopecia areata is a non-life threatening autoimmune disease, only a qualified doctor can tell if your son has this form of hair loss

The symptoms of Alopecia areata can range from mild (single or multiple areas of baldness on the scalp) to severe (a total loss of hair on the scalp and even the eyebrows and eyelashes). 

Normally the younger the person is, the more severe Alopecia Areata can be and the more difficult it can be to treat, so it’s important to see your doctor as soon as possible if you suspect Alopecia areata.  Possible treatment options include:



Cyclosporine, a powerful immunosuppressant


John E. Frank, MD
New York Hair Restoration Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 53 reviews

Alopecia Areata Treatment Options

Alopecia Areata typically presents with patchy hair loss in the scalp.  Though the exact etiology is unknown, many different treatments have been tried with varying degrees of success.  We have treated many patients with Alopecia Areata with an all natural, botanical oil product with significant improvement in scalp hair growth. 

If your son has hair loss in other areas, this should be evaluated by your primary care physician or endocrine specialist since it may not necessarily be Alopecia Areata.  There are several other conditions that can cause loss of body hair.  Good luck.

Steven L. Ringler, MD, FACS
Grand Rapids Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 69 reviews

Alopecia Areata

This is a condition where hair is lost in patches on head.  The description is moth-eaten pattern.  It is thought to be an autoimmune disease, which basically means his own body attacks his hair follicles.  When alopecia areata can be severe and effect every hair on the entire body.  In this case it is usually called alopecia totalis.  The exact cause is unknown.  There are treatments.  Injected or oral steroids can work but are associated with side-effects.  Other more experimental immune regulating treatments exist.  Look at the hair loss pattern.  If it is not really consistent with the normal hair loss pattern of a man, consider other causes of hair loss.

John Bitner, MD
Salt Lake City Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 86 reviews

Alopecia areata is a difficult condition to treat

The cause of alopecia areata is unknown though it is thought that it is an autoimmune condition -- where the body fights hair follicles as if they were foreign. It is a very difficult condition to treat. If your son started with whole body hair loss, I would get a second opinion as to the diagnosis. This would be an unusual, though possible, presentaiton of alopecia areata.

D.J. Verret, MD
Dallas Facial Plastic Surgeon
3.9 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

Alopecia Areata is treatable but body hair loss may be something else

Alopecia areata is typically a condition that affects the scalp only in small circular patches without a clear causative factor although the thinking is that it can be a T cell immune dysregulation. It can affect the eyebrows too and the entire hair being gone. that would be a condition of alopecia totalis. If all of the scalp, eyebrows, and body hair are gone, that is known as alopecia universalis.

if your son is just losing body hair, that may not be alopecia areata. you need to see a dermatologist and make sure that it is not hormonal, infectious, psychological (plucking out like trichotillomania), indicating some kind of underlying abnormality, etc.

Alopecia areata can resolve by itself and be treated with minoxidil and injectable steroids. Hair transplant is not an option unless the condition is well burned out.

Sam Lam, MD, FACS
Dallas Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 57 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.