Vitiligo and alopecia areata are both autoimmune disorders and it is sometimes suggested that the two disorders are linked. Today we’re looking into both to see if there is any correlation between hair loss and vitiligo.
Vitiligo is a long-term condition where pale white patches develop on the skin. These patches are caused by the lack of the pigment, melanin in the skin. Although it can affect any area of the skin, it is most commonly found on the face, neck and hands.
For some, vitiligo can develop where there are hair roots, such as on the scalp. The lack of melanin can turn the hair in affected areas white or grey.
Alopecia areata is a condition that causes hair to full out in patches. For some, hair can fall out in small areas which can be unnoticeable. However, the patches can connect and become more noticeable. The condition develops when the immune system attacks the hair follicles, resulting in hair loss.
Alopecia areata can result in total hair loss (alopecia universalis) and it can prevent hair from growing back. When the hair does grow back it is possible for the hair to fall out again, the extent of hair loss and regrowth varies from person to person.
One way Vitiligo and Alopecia Areata are linked is they’re both common autoimmune diseases of the skin. Vitiligo is caused by the destruction of melanocytes causing white patches on any part of the body, alopecia, however, is characterized by patchy hair loss on the scalp and can involve other areas.
Although by appearance, the two conditions are quite different, the immune cell populations and cytokines that drive each disease are similar. Both have common genetic risk factors, suggesting that they share similar pathogenesis.
The two conditions might have some similarities, but having Vitiligo does not mean that you will lose hair due to Alopecia Areata.