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What Causes a Bald Patch? | Affinity Health

Affinity Health, a leading provider of affordable medical insurance, highlights ‘Alopecia Areata,’ the medical name for hair loss.


What Is Alopecia Areata?

Have you ever taken a shower and watched handfuls of your hair fall down the drain? It is natural for healthy hair to shed a few strands following a wash. The greatest amount of hair you can shed is 100 strands per day. Excessive shedding may suggest a more severe problem.


Alopecia areata usually starts with small, coin-sized, bald patches on the scalp. The affected area may get bigger and affect more hair follicles. Sometimes, the disease can cause complete hair loss on the scalp.


Total hair loss on the scalp is also called Alopecia Areata Totalis. Alopecia can also manifest as total hair loss on the body. Losing hair all over your body is also called Alopecia Areata Universalis.


Alopecia areata usually affects both men and women. The exact cause of alopecia areata is unknown. But around 20% of persons who have alopecia areata also have an affected family member. As a result, specialists believe you can inherit the condition from family members.


Alopecia areata usually appears during the second decade of life. It usually starts on one part of the body and may spread to another part of the body. It is most common among people with fair skin and blonde or grey hair.


There is no cure for alopecia areata. But the condition often improves in noticeably young people or the elderly.

What Causes Alopecia Areata?

Alopecia Areata is a rare autoimmune disease that leads to hair loss. The condition affects around 1 in every 50 people in life. In most cases, alopecia areata does not cause any pain or physical discomfort. But it can cause emotional distress.


Various factors can trigger this condition.
  • Pregnancy or during the birth of a baby increases the risk.
  • Stress, anxiety, or depression causes hair loss.
  • Medications’ side effects can also include sudden hair loss.

How is Alopecia Areata Diagnosed?

The symptoms and medical history of each patient determine the diagnosis. The doctor may also conduct a physical examination of the patient.

Several tests help to diagnose this disease.

  • Blood tests
  • Skin biopsy
  • MRI scan
  • Hair follicle biopsy
  • Scalp biopsy

How is Alopecia Areata Treated?

Alopecia areata is incurable. But it is treatable, and hair can regrow. Do you think you may have alopecia areata or notice sudden hair loss? Book an appointment with your family doctor.


“Hair is a top indicator of general health. Changes in hair texture or thickness can signal underlying health conditions. Illnesses can include thyroid disease, anaemia, and certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies. So, it is always best to seek a professional diagnosis when excess hair shedding occurs,” says Murray Hewlett (CEO of Affinity Health).

Learn More: How to Prevent Hair Loss

About Affinity Health

Affinity Health is South Africa’s leading provider of affordable medical insurance. Members enjoy access to a network of healthcare providers. We have designed healthcare products to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service. For more information, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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