Alopecia totalis is one of the several skin conditions that cause hair loss. Although it has much in common with alopecia areata, it’s not the same. While alopecia areata causes your hair to fall out in patches, this form of the condition will result in a complete hair loss.
The main symptom of alopecia totalis is the loss of all the hair on your scalp. You may first start losing your hair in random patches, which is why some mistake it for alopecia areata. Over time, these patches will spread until you’ve lost all your hair. But unlike more severe forms of alopecia, it won’t affect the hair on other parts of your body.
In some cases, it may also make your nails soft. That’s because your hair and your nails share a similar origin and structure.
Doctors still don’t know the exact cause of alopecia totalis. But like other types of alopecia, they classify it as an autoimmune disorder. This means that it occurs when your immune system starts attacking the hair follicles.
Because 20% of people who suffer from it have a relative with alopecia, experts believe it’s genetic. So, if you have a family history of this condition, you may be more at risk of suffering from it yourself.
As with all other forms of alopecia, there is no known cure for alopecia totalis, but several treatment options may help reduce its symptoms. They include oral medication, as well as topical creams and shampoos. Your doctor may also recommend topical immunotherapy.
This condition is very uncertain, so doctors can’t predict the outcome of the treatment. Sometimes it goes away, but it can also become permanent. As a rule, the sooner you start treatment, the better your chances of a positive result.