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Signs of Alopecia: Should You Be Concerned About Hair Loss?

Medically reviewed by Regina Victoria Boyles, MD · Pediatrics

Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated Jul 01, 2023

    Signs of Alopecia: Should You Be Concerned About Hair Loss?

    Does this sound familiar? You were just brushing your hair one morning when you suddenly notice your hair is all over the place. When you look closer in the mirror, you also observe an empty space on your scalp area. What does this mean? Should these signs of alopecia be a cause for concern? Find out here. 

    What Is Alopecia?

    Alopecia is a broad medical term for what is commonly referred to as hair loss. It may not be a life-threatening condition, but sometimes it is more than just a scalp concern. It also includes immune system conditions that affect hair growth and cause scalp damage.

    Through such immune system conditions, the body may misinterpret its own hair follicles as a threat. Your body then targets these hair follicles, and as a result, you may experience some hair fall. This autoimmune condition can affect any part of the body where the hair seems to grow. But it is usually the head and the scalp area that is first affected.

    There are three severe forms that fall under this broad umbrella, each with its own set of signs of alopecia:

    • Areata (patchy hair loss on your head)
    • Totalis (complete hair loss on your head)
    • Universalis (the loss of all body hair)

    Alopecia is not a contagious condition, although it can affect persons of all ages with onset peaks in children and adults in their twenties.

    Like any other autoimmune disease, it is also thought to have a hereditary base with unknown triggers that cause hair loss. Some of the disorders that have been linked to an elevated risk are:

    The most common tell-tale signs of alopecia are bald patches, hair loss, and regrowth.

    Signs of Alopecia

    Hair loss can manifest itself in various ways, depending on the cause. It might occur abruptly or gradually, affecting the scalp or even the entire body.

    Sudden Hair Loosening

    Hair may have the tendency to loosen as a result of physical or mental trauma. A few strands of hair may fall out when combing or washing your hair, or even after light tugging. This type of hair loss is associated with hair thinning, which is usually only transitory.

    Full-Body Hair Loss

    Hair loss can occur as a result of some medical treatments, such as chemotherapy for cancer. Hair normally regrows on its own.

    For men, this includes the hair on their brows, eyelids, arms, legs, underarms, pubic, chest, and back. Alopecia patients may experience burning or itching in regions where they once had hair.

    Gradual Thinning on Top of the Head

    Many aging people may experience this common symptom. 

    Hair begins to stop growing near the hairline on the forehead in men. On the other hand, the majority of cases in women involves some parts of the scalp.

    Circular or Patchy Bald Spots

    Some people lose hair in circular or spotty bald areas like the beard, brows, and scalp area.  

    This exposes the smooth, peach-colored parts of the scalp, making it uncomfortable. Alopecia areata begins with one to two bald patches the size of a coin. After that, it frequently comes to a stop. Hair can grow back in some cases, but with no clear guarantee.

    Scaly Patches Spread All Over the Scalp 

    This is a ringworm type of symptom, displaying redness, swelling, leaking, and even broken hair. 

    You may also notice some changes in your fingernails and toenails. Pitting, white spots or lines, and roughness are among the possible characteristics of  nails when you have alopecia.

    Key Takeaways

    Some people living with alopecia can feel emotionally drained from feeling less of themselves because of the appearance of bald spots and more.

    Consult your doctor on what you can do about these signs of alopecia.

    Learn more about hair and scalp care here.


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Regina Victoria Boyles, MD


    Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated Jul 01, 2023

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