Alopecia universalis is the archetypical hair loss condition. When most people think about hair loss, they’re imagining alopecia universalis.
The fear of hair loss is ingrained in everyone, not just men. Our identities are so inextricably linked with our hair, that it’s no surprise that a condition that causes hair loss as severe as alopecia universalis is feared as much as it is.
What Is Alopecia Universalis?
In recent years, the term alopecia has come to be synonymous with all forms of hair loss. In actual fact, there are many different types of alopecia, each of which has distinct causes and effects.
Alopecia universalis is total loss of hair on the body. Unlike variants such as alopecia totalis – which only involves the loss of the hair on the scalp – the reach of alopecia universalis extends to every hair on the human body.
Being diagnosed with alopecia universalis can be a traumatic and stressful time. Sufferers of alopecia universalis will typically feel emotions of:
- Confusion, not being able to process the changes occurring to the body
- Shame, feeling embarrassed by their loss of hair
- Stress and anxiety, becoming worried by the potential effects of alopecia on their lives
- Sadness caused by the recent loss of hair
What Causes Alopecia Universalis?
Another thing that makes alopecia universalis so frustrating is its causes.
Much like with alopecia totalis, it’s not currently known what exactly alopecia universalis. Many theories exist, the most prominent of which argues that alopecia universaslis is an aggressive autoimmune disorder.
Under this theory, alopecia universalis occurs when our immune systems make the mistake of considering our hair follicles to be foreign threats to the body – and starts attacking our hair follicles.
With alopecia universalis, this isn’t just isolated to head hair. It’s so aggressive that it targets every hair on our bodies.
Who Is At Risk?
Because of alopecia universalis’s indeterminate causes, it’s difficult to say exactly who’s most at risk of contracting the disorder. It’s equally hard to delineate the factors which predispose people to the condition.
Studies have shown that alopecia universalis has some degree of heredity. Additionally, people with pre-existing autoimmune conditions, such as diabetes or thyroid disease are more likely to contract the condition.
Negative emotions such as stress or anxiety are widely considered to be triggers for the condition. In other words, there is a chance that an otherwise normal person with no history of alopecia can develop the disorder as a result of negative emotional stressors.
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