What causes total hair loss on the scalp?

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Q: What causes total hair loss on the scalp (alopecia totalis)? Are there cures?

A: Alopecia totalis is a severe form of the medical condition alopecia areata, in which a person loses hair in patches on parts of the body or head. Alopecia totalis is hair loss on the entire scalp, and alopecia universalis is complete hair loss all over the body. Lynne Goldberg, professor of dermatology at Boston University School of Medicine, says the condition can appear in childhood or adulthood and has an unpredictable course; hair may fall out and then regrow, the condition may improve spontaneously or continue for years.

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