Alopecia areata is a skin condition involving patches of hair loss on the scalp and possibly on the face and other areas of the body. This condition may affect people of all ages and ethnicities and of all genders.
The Mount Sinai Health System is a world leader in alopecia areata treatments and research. In addition to providing state-of-the-art therapies, our scientists are conducting groundbreaking studies to investigate the scalp and blood of alopecia areata patients to develop new treatments. We are also giving our patients access to clinical trials, many of which are not available elsewhere.
Causes of Alopecia Areata
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system becomes overactive and attacks hair follicles. Some patients have a family history of alopecia. In addition, hair loss sometimes follows a significant event, such as pregnancy, illness, or trauma. Alopecia areata is more common in patients with personal or familial history of eczema and asthma or other allergic diseases.
Symptoms of Alopecia Areata
Alopecia areata is a condition which typically begins with one or a few patches of hair loss, most often on the scalp, but it can also appear in other body locations. In addition, some people may experience hair loss in the eyebrows, eyelashes, beard, and extremities. The patches where the hair has fallen out may appear round and smooth. Some individuals may also have an itching sensation, or notice pitting of the fingernails.
Less commonly, alopecia areata may advance to the point where it leads to total hair loss on the scalp or total hair loss throughout the body.
Treatments for Alopecia Areata
The Mount Sinai Health System’s Department of Dermatology offers uniquely specialized care for alopecia areata. We go beyond the standard therapies to research and innovate promising new science-based treatments that have been initiated at Mount Sinai. Our team is responsible for the development of some of the safest, most effective therapies for alopecia areata. Having discovered the key role of the type 2 lymphocytes in alopecia areata, our lab is now opening new avenues for research and treatment in this disease.
While some milder cases of alopecia areata may resolve on their own, more severe cases may require treatment, such as the following:
- Corticosteroids administered via injection or topically
- Topical medications
- Systemic treatments, such as novel biologic, JAK inhibitors, and other treatments, such as those offered in clinical trials
Mount Sinai’s physician-scientists are working tirelessly to pursue new discoveries that will translate into life-changing therapies for patients living with alopecia areata.