Alopecia: Will the hair grow back?

Our 35-year-old daughter has developed bald patches on her head over the last few months. The patches are increasing in size and number. She is not under stress. The GP did blood tests and found nothing. Could you tell us what the cause of this could be and if there is anything that can be done to stop it from getting worse.

Dr Fred Kavalier answers your health question:

Your daughter almost certainly has alopecia areata. This is an auto-immune disorder, in which the body mounts an attack on its own hair follicles. No one knows why it happens. The course of alopecia areata is unpredictable. Some people develop a few small bald patches, which last for a short time and then hair regrows. In others, however, the condition progresses. A proportion of people (about one in five) lose all their hair. This is known as alopecia totalis.Alopecia is not caused by stress or any other identifiable environmental factor. It can happen at any age. There are several treatments available. She could see a dermatologist to discuss steroid injections. Another option is a scalp lotion called minoxidil. There are support groups in the UK. Get in touch with Alopecia UK: www.alopeciaonline.org.uk or call 02083 331 661

Please mail your questions for Dr Fred to health@independent.co.uk. He regrets that he is unable to respond personally to questions.

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