Alopecia is a term that simply means “hair loss”. There are many types and causes of hair loss. Some are purely caused by genetics, for example male pattern baldness, some are caused by stress, some are caused by nutrient deficiency, and some are caused by autoimmunity.
Autoimmune Alopecia generally show up in 3 different forms: Alopecia Areata (patchy bald spots), Totalis (total hair loss on the scalp), Universalis (total hair loss on the scalp and all over the body). There can also be ophiasis pattern of hair loss which is hair loss around the sides of the scalp and along the hairline.
How do you know if you have autoimmune Alopecia? A telltale sign of autoimmune Alopecia is exclamation point hair, which is short, broken hair near the scalp where it goes thinner at the base or scalp (hence it’s called exclamation mark). When you see exclamation point or broken hair, it means that you are in active hair loss stage, and this is the perfect time to take a baseline of what you are exposed to, because it can provide clues to identifying your triggers.
The areas around the broken hair typically forms a patch of bald spot. If you don’t do anything now, hair loss may progress into Alopecia Totalis, leading to loss of all hair on the scalp, and it may progress even further into Alopecia Universalis. This all sounds scary and frustrating, but autoimmune Alopecia can be overcome (with commitment and discipline) and personally I chose to NOT use any form of pharmaceutical drugs (which don’t solve the problem but just managing symptoms).
Routine bloodwork usually doesn’t tell you anything. Even more specialised, functional blood and GI tests will lead you down pretty much the same “”solution”” — diet, underlying infection or toxicity, lifestyle measures, etc etc. Causes of autoimmune alopecia can be physiological and/or psychological, or both. Blood tests don’t reveal psychological or emotional causes.