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Health Tip: Understanding Alopecia

Autoimmune disease causes bald patches on scalp

(HealthDay News) -- Alopecia is an autoimmune disease that causes the body's immune cells to attack hair follicles. The result is hair loss, often in patches across the scalp. Research indicates the disease may be genetic, the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases says.

The bald patches normally are about the size of a quarter. In some people, however, hair loss may be more severe and even lead to total baldness.

While there is no universal treatment for alopecia, corticosteroids, minoxidil (Rogaine), and some medications used to treat psoriasis may help stimulate hair growth among people with alopecia, the institute says.

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