Complete loss of hair on the head, face and body
Alopecia universalis is the loss of all hair not only on the head but also the whole body. The word universalis means exactly what it says: Universal loss – the loss is everywhere. Most of the afflicted persons are children and adults (up to age 40), although the illness may occur in persons of all age categories. Some afflicted individuals are already born without hair, eyebrows and eyelashes and will never have any hair. They have hair follicles in their skin, but they are inactive, dead; therefore, no hair can grow out of them. Such extensive hair loss may cause further difficulties. Loss of hair in the nose and ears for example causes easier entry of dust and bacteria into the body, which puts the afflicted persons at risk of allergies and infections.
The exact cause of the illness is still unknown. The current theories presume an autoimmune process, stress or genetics. It is also presumed that the disorder is inherited as an autosomal recessive disorder and is caused by mutation of a gene on the HR chromosome in the zone 8p21.2. Alopecia universalis appears very rarely, but the recovery is more likely with those who seek help immediately rather than with those who have had the problem for several years. Alopecia universalis is the most extreme form of alopecia areata.