What Is Alopecia Areata?
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune attack on hair follicles characterized by sudden hair loss involving scalp or beard, although any hairy area may be affected.
Areas of hair loss have a patchy pattern with sharply defined edges.
Q: Can all hair be affected?
A: All body hair may be lost, which is called alopecia universalis although this is uncommon.
In alopecia areata, white blood cells of the immune system attack the rapidly growing cells in the hair follicles. The affected hair follicles become small and drastically slow down hair production. Fortunately, the stem cells that continuously supply the follicle with new cells do not seem to be targeted. So the follicle always has the potential to regrow hair but regrowth is unpredictable.1 
What Is Alopecia Areata In Celiac Disease and/or Gluten Sensitivity?
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http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Alopecia_Areata ↩