Q: My 8 year old grandson is getting bald spots. His father has had Alopecia since childhood. I am desperately looking for
any information on Childhood Alopecia. If you have any idea please let me know.
A: First of all, let me say how very sorry I am to hear that your grandson has to deal with this issue. According to the Childrenís
Alopecia Project, alopecia areata is considered to be an autoimmune disease, in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the hair
follicles from which hairs grow. This can lead to hair loss on the scalp and elsewhere. Most times the hair loss comes in the form
of a few small round patches about quarter sized, though more severe cases can result in complete loss of hair on the head, or the loss of all the hair on the body.
In alopecia areate, the white blood cells of the body attack the rapidly growing cells of the
follicles that produce the hair. The good news is that the stem cells that supply the follicles with new cells donít seem to be
targeted, so the follicles affected always retain the potential to grow hair. Scientists donít know precisely why these events
occur in the victims of alopecia areata, but they do think it possible that the determining factor is a combination of genetic
marks that predispose certain people to the disease.
While the disease can be traumatic in its effects on the people (especially children) who
experience it, Alopecia Areata is not life threatening. It does tend to occur in people whose family members have other autoimmune
diseases: diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and Addisonís disease among others.