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Alopecia Areata


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What is Alopecia Areata?

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition that causes hair loss on the scalp, face, and sometimes other areas of the body. In this condition, the immune system attacks the hair follicles (structures that contain the roots of the hair), which causes the hair loss. As many as 6.8 million people in the United States have this skin disease. (Source: National Alopecia Areata Foundation)

Symptoms of Alopecia Areata

Symptoms of this condition usually begin during childhood and can be different for everyone who has it. A hallmark of this condition is losing your hair in round patches. Alopecia areata can also affect your fingernails and toenails. These nail changes are sometimes the first sign of the condition and include:

  • Loss of shine
  • Pitting (tiny pinpoint dents)
  • Roughness
  • Thinning and splitting
  • White spots or lines

Treating Alopecia Areata

Your dermatologist may prescribe an injection of corticosteroids to help reduce the loss of your body hair, or they may prescribe a topical corticosteroid cream or ointment. You will receive injections every three to six weeks, with hair growth typically beginning about four weeks after the final injection. In some cases, hair growth takes longer or is unsuccessful altogether.

Topical Medications
If corticosteroids are unsuccessful, your specialist may recommend you try a different type of topical medication, such as Minoxidil, Anthralin, or Diphencyprone (DPCP), to help slow or reverse your alopecia-related hair loss.

Testing for Alopecia Areata

Physical Exam
Through a medical examination of your skin, as well as a thorough review of your health history, we can accurately diagnose your alopecia.

If your dermatologist suspects you have alopecia, they may remove a small skin sample (biopsy) from the affected area for closer analysis in the laboratory.

Blood Test
Your dermatologist may order a blood test to rule out any other autoimmune conditions that can also cause similar symptoms.

Why Choose UHealth?

World-class leaders in skin care treatment. The University of Miami Health System is recognized throughout South Florida and the world as a leader in caring for conditions and disorders of the skin. Backed by one of the nation’s top universities, our team uses the latest technologies and research-driven expertise to provide superior, personalized treatments for alopecia areata.

Largest in-patient dermatology service in the United States Located at UHealth Tower, the facilities are equipped with the newest equipment. Approximately 500 patients are admitted to the hospital during every year. The diseases treated vary from psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, cutaneous lymphoma, severe infections of the skin, immunobullous disorders, and severe reactions to medicines, such as toxic epidermal necrolysis. The dermatology unit has individual rooms and therapeutic modalities such as ultraviolet light therapy, photopheresis, and hydrotherapy.

Compassionate care in an academic medical center. Regardless of your age, condition, or whether you need long-term, short-term, or regenerative skin treatments, you will benefit from the state-of-the-art technology and latest medical advancements developed by our researchers at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. You will receive the most accurate diagnosis and a detailed plan to keep your skin, hair, and nails healthy.

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