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Symptoms

In its most common form, alopecia areata causes small round or oval patches of baldness on the scalp. The area of bald skin looks smooth and normal. In most cases, there are no other scalp symptoms. Occasionally, there is mild itching, tingling, tenderness or a burning sensation in the affected area. Some people with alopecia areata also have abnormalities in the surface of their fingernails, such as tiny pits or dents, grooves, superficial splitting, or an abnormal area of redness.

In rarer, more severe forms of the disorder, hair loss can involve the entire scalp or the entire body, including the eyebrows, eyelashes, beard, underarm hair and pubic hair (hair around the genitals).

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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