What Are the Different Types of Alopecia Areata?

types of alopecia areata

Regardless of race or ethnicity, almost anyone can experience total or partial and permanent or temporary hair loss at different stages of their life. In fact, the majority of hair-loss cases can usually be classified under the umbrella term “alopecia areata,” a Latin expression referring to “baldness occurring in patches.” There are varying degrees and different types of alopecia areata and they can each manifest in different ways.
types of alopecia areata


What Is Alopecia Areata?

Alopecia areata is the most common form of hair loss and it’s characterized by the patchy hair patterns it creates. Its effects depend on the severity or the cause of the condition. Unfortunately, there’s no clear answer as to what causes alopecia areata, because it’s been linked to countless different illnesses and conditions.

There are two well-known explanations for it, though: it could be triggered by a hereditary predisposition or it could be caused by an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system misidentifies healthy hair follicles as harmful cells in the body and directly attacks them.

There are three major types of alopecia areata and a few minor versions of it as well.

Three Common Types of Alopecia Areata

Alopecia areata in all its different forms can occur on any part of the body where hair grows. The three types of alopecia areata that are most common are persistent patchy alopecia areata, alopecia universalis, and alopecia totalis.

Persistent Patchy Alopecia Areata

This type of alopecia areata is identified by its patchy appearance and, like all variations of alopecia areata, it can occur anywhere on the body. However, the most common starting point is the scalp. Persistent patchy alopecia areata is usually isolated to very specific areas or patches of skin where hair follicles are no longer able to produce new hair strands. The patches tend to be circular or oval-shaped and there can either be one or multiple patches within the same vicinity. Depending on what’s causing the condition, it can spread to other areas and become permanent or remain temporary.

Alopecia Universalis

Just as the name implies, alopecia universalis entails gradual total body hair loss. It starts on the scalp and eventually spreads to the face and the rest of the body.

Alopecia Totalis

Alopecia totalis is slightly different from alopecia universalis in that it only causes total hair loss on the scalp. It can, however, lead to alopecia universalis if left undiagnosed and untreated.

Other Forms of Alopecia Areata

There are two lesser-known and less common forms of alopecia areata: diffuse alopecia areata and ophiasis alopecia areata.

Diffuse Alopecia Areata

Diffuse alopecia areata, also known as alopecia areata incognita, is mostly seen in young women and only affects the scalp. Unlike persistent patchy alopecia areata, diffuse alopecia areata doesn’t have a patchy appearance. Instead, it causes hair to fall out in large chunks and prevents hair regeneration. This condition is often confused with the prolonged telogen effluvium stage of hair growth in which the follicles don’t produce hair for a brief period of time.

Ophiasis Alopecia Areata

This is one of the rarest forms of alopecia areata. Hair loss usually begins at the very back of the scalp, close to the nape of the neck, and spreads behind the ears to the crown of the head. In its most advanced stage, the patient’s remaining hair resembles a headband.

Alopecia Hair Loss Treatment in Toronto

At The Canadian Institute of Hair and Scalp Specialists, finding and implementing effective and successful alopecia hair loss treatments is one of our fortes. We’ve offered countless professional hair loss treatment solutions to patients from all over the world for over 20 years, and we’re confident we can help you, too. To schedule a free consultation with one of our hair loss specialists, please call us at (905) 272-0190 or toll free at 1-800-563-3836.

by Ken Robson

In business since August 1, 1986, I am the president and also a client at The Canadian Institute of Hair & Scalp Specialists. Having worked with a team of Doctors and Chemists over the years I have compiled a great deal of knowledge in this area, originally involved with a Pharmaceutical company manufacturing vitamins for the hair loss industry. Years ago I was fascinated by the new developments in this area as my own hair was beginning to thin. Studying Trichology at the Toronto clinic I then opened my own office and have enjoyed it ever since.