Possible causes of alopecia areata include genetics and the existence of other autoimmune disorders. Alopecia areata is not a nervous disorder caused by stress, and it is not contagious. Approximately 20 percent of people with alopecia areata have a family member with the condition.
Heredity is more likely to be the cause for people who develop alopecia areata before age thirty. People who develop alopecia areata often have a family history of one or more other autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disease, asthma, or early-onset diabetes.
Alopecia areata is not painful, but it can be emotionally challenging. Many people with alopecia areata wear hairpieces, while others style their hair to make the hair loss less noticeable. A good support system is useful to people dealing with alopecia areata due to the stress that hair loss can cause.