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Disease Profile

Alopecia areata

Prevalence estimates on Rare Medical Network websites are calculated based on data available from numerous sources, including US and European government statistics, the NIH, Orphanet, and published epidemiologic studies. Rare disease population data is recognized to be highly variable, and based on a wide variety of source data and methodologies, so the prevalence data on this site should be assumed to be estimated and cannot be considered to be absolutely correct.


US Estimated

Europe Estimated

Age of onset





Autosomal dominant A pathogenic variant in only one gene copy in each cell is sufficient to cause an autosomal dominant disease.


Autosomal recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of each gene of the chromosome are needed to cause an autosomal recessive disease and observe the mutant phenotype.


dominant X-linked dominant inheritance, sometimes referred to as X-linked dominance, is a mode of genetic inheritance by which a dominant gene is carried on the X chromosome.


recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of a gene on the X chromosome cause an X-linked recessive disorder.


Mitochondrial or multigenic Mitochondrial genetic disorders can be caused by changes (mutations) in either the mitochondrial DNA or nuclear DNA that lead to dysfunction of the mitochondria and inadequate production of energy.


Multigenic or multifactor Inheritance involving many factors, of which at least one is genetic but none is of overwhelming importance, as in the causation of a disease by multiple genetic and environmental factors.


Not applicable


Other names (AKA)

AA; Diffuse alopecia; Patchy alopecia;


Immune System Diseases


Alopecia areata (AA) is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the hair follicles. In most cases, hair falls out in small, round patches on the scalp. Although uncommon, hair loss can be more extensive in some people and affect other parts of the body. This condition can progress to complete loss of scalp hair (alopecia totalis) or total loss of all body hair (alopecia universalis).[1] Although the exact cause of AA is unknown, roughly 20% of affected people have a family member with alopecia, suggesting that genetic factors may contribute to the development of the condition.[2] There is no cure or approved therapy for AA; however, some people find that medications approved for other purposes can help regrow hair.[1]


This table lists symptoms that people with this disease may have. For most diseases, symptoms will vary from person to person. People with the same disease may not have all the symptoms listed. This information comes from a database called the Human Phenotype Ontology (HPO) . The HPO collects information on symptoms that have been described in medical resources. The HPO is updated regularly. Use the HPO ID to access more in-depth information about a symptom.

Medical Terms Other Names
Learn More:
Percent of people who have these symptoms is not available through HPO
Alopecia totalis
Alopecia universalis
Autoimmune disease
Autoimmune disorder

[ more ]

Multifactorial inheritance
Nail pits
Nail pitting
Pitted nails

[ more ]

Patchy alopecia
Patchy baldness


Support and advocacy groups can help you connect with other patients and families, and they can provide valuable services. Many develop patient-centered information and are the driving force behind research for better treatments and possible cures. They can direct you to research, resources, and services. Many organizations also have experts who serve as medical advisors or provide lists of doctors/clinics. Visit the group’s website or contact them to learn about the services they offer. Inclusion on this list is not an endorsement by GARD.

Organizations Supporting this Disease

    Organizations Providing General Support

      Learn more

      These resources provide more information about this condition or associated symptoms. The in-depth resources contain medical and scientific language that may be hard to understand. You may want to review these resources with a medical professional.

      Where to Start

      • DermNet NZ is an online resource about skin diseases developed by the New Zealand Dermatological Society Incorporated. DermNet NZ provides information about this condition.
      • MedlinePlus was designed by the National Library of Medicine to help you research your health questions, and it provides more information about this topic.
      • The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) support research into the causes, treatment, and prevention of arthritis and musculoskeletal and skin diseases, the training of basic and clinical scientists to carry out this research, and the dissemination of information on research progress in these diseases. Click on the link to view information on this topic.
      • The National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) has a report for patients and families about this condition. NORD is a patient advocacy organization for individuals with rare diseases and the organizations that serve them.

        In-Depth Information

        • Medscape Reference provides information on this topic. You may need to register to view the medical textbook, but registration is free.
        • Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM) is a 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.

          Resources for Kids


            1. Alopecia Areata: Questions and Answers About Alopecia Areata. National Institutes of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disorders (NIAMS). April 2015; https://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Alopecia_Areata/.
            2. Alopecia areata. MedlinePlus. 11/20/2012; https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001450.htm.
            3. Bolduc C. Alopecia Areata. Medscape Reference. May 8, 2017; https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1069931-overview.
            4. Alopecia Areata. National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). 2004; https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/alopecia-areata/#affected-populations.
            5. Renert-Yuval Y, Guttman-Yassky E. The Changing Landscape of Alopecia Areata: The Therapeutic Paradigm. Adv Ther. 2017; 34(7):1594-1609. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5504208/.