In this condition there is a loss of pigment as a result of antibodies developing against melanocytes in the skin in a limited area. However, the areas affected tend to gradually increase. There may be other autoimmune diseases in the same patient, causing, for example, pernicious anaemia, and thyroid disease.
There is evidence that this condition may be associated with an immune reaction against the hair follicle. The increased incidence of antibodies to the thyroid gland and gastric parietal cells in patients with alopecia areata provides circumstantial support for an autoimmune aetiology.
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