What is the difference between the three types of alopecia?

Most people know alopecia to be a form of hair loss. However, what they don’t always know is that there are three main types of the condition – alopecia areata, alopecia totalis and alopecia universalis. But what is the difference between the three?

Alopecia areata

This is one of the most commonly reported types of hair loss, referring to bald patches or spots on the scalp.

Alopecia totalis

This is hair loss affecting the whole of the head, including eyelashes and eyebrows. It is a more advanced stage of alopecia areata, which progresses to totalis and universalis in around 1 – 2 per cent of cases.

Alopecia universalis

This term relates to hair loss all over the body, meaning that the entire epidermis is free from hair. It is the most severe form of alopecia areata, and as such is quite rare, occurring only in around 1 in 100,000 people.

Did you know…?

As well as the three types of alopecia outlined above, there are a couple of other ways alopecia can be classified. These include:

• Alopecia areata barbae – this is hair loss limited only to the male beard
• Alopecia areata multicularis – this refers to multiple areas or patches of hair loss
• Alopecia areata monocularis – one area of baldness, found in any location on the scalp