Alopecia Areata
One of the most confounding types of hair loss is alopecia areata. This condition, which can ultimately lead to a complete loss of hair over the entire body, is also known as spot baldness. Alopecia areata is relatively common -- it affects approximately one person out of every thousand. This condition is diagnosed in men, women and children of all ages.

Causes of alopecia areata
Most cases of alopecia areata have an unknown cause, however the condition is not contagious. Heredity has been found to play a leading role; about 20 percent of people diagnosed with alopecia areata have a family member who has also been diagnosed. Those who suffer from an autoimmune disease (or have a family history of autoimmune disease) are at a higher risk. In fact, alopecia areata is considered by many medical experts to be a type of autoimmune disease and has been known to be stress induced.

Symptoms of alopecia areata
Alopecia areata begins as small, defined areas of hair loss. These bald patches are usually round in shape. While the condition is typically painless, some sufferers have complained of itching or a painful burning sensation at the site of the hair loss. Others have simply noted a tingling sensation.
The hair loss with alopecia areata occurs quickly -- sometimes as fast as just a few days. Usually, the condition affects the scalp, however it can occur anywhere on the body such as arms, legs and even eyebrows. Outside of the scalp, men report the most common location of alopecia areata is their beard.

Treatment of alopecia areata
Unfortunately, there is no cure-all medication or treatment procedure for alopecia areata. If the affected area isn't large and the onset of the condition was sudden, many experts recommend a simple wait-and-see approach. Many times the hair loss will reverse and the hair will begin to return as quickly as it disappeared.
In more severe cases, the use of topical corticosteroids is often recommended. Steroid injections are also an option, especially when the hair loss site is small yet has failed to grow back on its own. General hairloss medications, such as minoxidil, are sometimes recommended, as are hair loss treatments like ultraviolet light therapy.

Alopecia areata outlook
The good news is that most cases of alopecia areata have a happy ending. Although it may take a few months or even a year, the hair loss will oftentimes reverse and start to grow back. Even in cases that see numerous patches of hair loss throughout the body, the ultimate prognosis is typically positive.
However, in rare cases, alopecia areata can ultimately lead to alopecia totalis (scalp hair completely lost) or alopecia universalis (body hair completely lost). In such cases, hair systems, wigs and other hair loss solutions will be recommended.