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Alopecia Universalis: Definition, Symptoms, and Diagnosis

The complete loss of all body hair is known as Alopecia Universalis (alopecia universalis pronunciation: al-uh-pee-shee-uh yoo-nuh-vur-suh-liz).

It is a severe form of alopecia areata. It occurs all around the entire body. You can see loss of pubic hair, eyebrows, eyelashes, and armpit hair. It can also be referred to as full body alopecia. Men can even observe a loss of chest hair.

One might wonder how many people have alopecia universalis. It is a rare disease. Around 0.03% of the Earth’s human population has Alopecia Universalis.

This article will provide you with these alopecia universalis information:

  • ALOPECIA UNIVERSALIS IS AN AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE.
  • THIS “NO HAIR CONDITION” AFFECTS ALL OF THE HAIR FOLLICLES IN THE BODY.
  • IT CAN BE INHERITED.
  • IT IS NOT CONTAGIOUS.
  • THE EXACT CAUSE OF ALOPECIA UNIVERSALIS IS YET TO BE UNKNOWN.
  • ALOPECIA UNIVERSALIS HAS NO CURE, BUT IT CAN BE KEPT UNDER CONTROL AND IT CAN BE REVERSIBLE.
body alopecia

What Is Alopecia Universalis?

Alopecia universalis is one of the types of alopecia areata. It is the complete hair loss all around the body, also referred to as complete alopecia or a medical condition with no hair.

Eyebrows, eyelashes, mustache, facial hair, hair on the scalp, and body hair start falling and stop regrowing with this condition. In short, it is the loss of all body hair

Although it is an autoimmune disease, alopecia universalis only attacks the hair follicles. It does not act on other cells or affect any other bodily functions. So, having no body hair is not considered to be a risk for overall health.

Is Alopecia Universalis an Autoimmune Disease?

Yes, alopecia universalis is an autoimmune disease.

The T-cells attack the hair follicles all around the body, mistaking them for a foreign object. That causes the hair to be stuck at the catagen phase (the transition phase where the hair stops growing). After that, comes the telogen phase (resting phase), where the hair starts falling out. Since there is an autoimmune disease in the equation, these phases occur rather faster.

Is Alopecia Universalis Hereditary?

Yes, alopecia universalis autoimmune disorder is inheritable. Meaning, that if one of your descendants has had alopecia universalis, you are at a higher possibility of also having it.

In some cases, some babies are born with no hair on their body. This may indicate there was no hair growth to begin with, and it may not always be alopecia areata.

This can be because of another condition called congenital hypotrichosis. It is a disease where hair growth never happens on the body, unlike alopecia, where there was hair growth at some point in time and body hair falling out occurred afterward.

Is Alopecia Universalis Contagious?

No, alopecia universalis is not contagious. Alopecia Universalis being a contagious condition is completely false information. There is no way of anyone catching alopecia universalis from someone else unless they are genetically destined to.

Symptoms of Alopecia Universalis

Alopecia universalis symptoms are usually very short-lived. However, it can start as alopecia areata and develop itself into alopecia universalis.

Unfortunately, the exact range for it is not always detectable. It can happen in a matter of days or a few months.

Alopecia universalis signs and symptoms include:

  • HAIR THINNING RAPIDLY EVERYWHERE SIMULTANEOUSLY
  • NAILS SEPARATING
  • SMOOTH SKIN, NO VISIBLE HAIR FOLLICLES
  • ITCHING, TINGLING, AND/OR BURNING ON THE AFFECTED AREA BEFORE HAIR LOSS

Which Body Part Does Alopecia Universalis Affect?

Alopecia universalis is a disease where you have no hair, it affects the full body, and may lead to complete hair loss. This means alopecia universalis does not skip a single hair when it is in action. It affects every hair follicles on the body, including:

  • SCALP
  • ARM
  • ARMPITS
  • LEGS
  • FACIAL HAIR
  • PUBIC HAIR
  • CHEST HAIR
  • BACK HAIR

 

When You Lose Eyebrows Does It Definitely Mean Alopecia Universalis?

No, losing eyebrows does not directly mean one has alopecia universalis. Eyebrow loss can occur due to various reasons. Such as:

  • ALOPECIA AREATA
  • AGING
  • THYROID DISEASE
  • NUTRIENT DEFICIENCIES
  • TRICHOTILLOMANIA

 

Detecting if it’s trichotillomania or not is easier as it happens after consistent behaviors. 

How Do The Eyes Protect Themselves Without Eyelashes After Alopecia Universalis?

Yes, eyelashes play a big part in protecting the eyes. However, it is not the only agent. When the eyelashes are out of the equation, eyes become more defensive

People with alopecia universalis tend to exhibit these in order to protect their eyes without eyelashes:

  • TEAR UP MORE
  • HEIGHTENED BLINKING REFLEX
  • BECOME MORE SENSITIVE TO THE OUTSIDE FACTORS

 

All of these agents help the eye protect itself without the eyebrows or eyelashes. Yes, it is possible that dryness and irritation can occur in the eye more, but they can be easily taken care of via appropriate meds, such as eye drops.

How Does Alopecia Universalis Affect You?

Alopecia universalis only causes loss of hair. There may be some increased chance of getting other autoimmune diseases such as thyroid disease in people with alopecia universalis.

Alopecia Universalis can also affect one mentally. This condition can lower their self-esteem because of their environment. 

⚠️ If you or someone you know are having struggles with self-image because of this condition, it can be great to consult a professional about the matter.

What Are the Causes Of Alopecia Universalis?

The exact cause of alopecia universalis is yet to be clear. However, there are a few factors that can promote this disease. Possible causes of alopecia universalis are:

  • GENETICS
  • OTHER AUTOIMMUNE DISORDERS SUCH AS VITILIGO
  • CHEMOTHERAPY
  • SEVERE STRESS
  • PHYSICAL OR PSYCHOLOGICAL TRAUMA

What Causes Body Alopecia Universalis?

Genetics, environmental, or psychological factors such as such as severe stress can play a role in developing body alopecia universalis.

In some cases, it can be a progression of alopecia areata, patches of hair loss. Then it develops itself into alopecia universalis.

How Is Alopecia Universalis Diagnosed?

It is rather easy to diagnose alopecia universalis. Not only can it happen fast, there are other signs that can indicate this autoimmune disease. 

Alopecia universalis diagnostic methods are:

  • EXAMINATION OF THE SCALP
  • EXAMINATION OF THE MEDICAL HISTORY
  • FAMILY HISTORY
  • BIOPSY
  • BLOOD TESTS

 

How to Treat Alopecia Universalis

Alopecia Universalis can be managed or treated via some methods. Although only about 10% of people with no hair or eyebrows experience full hair growth, hair can grow back after alopecia universalis. 

Alopecia universalis treatment options that can stimulate hair growth include:

  • CORTICOSTEROIDS
  • JANUS KINASE (JAK) INHIBITORS
  • IMMUNOTHERAPY
  • CYCLOSPORINE THERAPY
  • LIGHT THERAPY
  • NATURAL REMEDIES LIKE ROSEMARY OIL

 

⚠️ Keep in mind that not every treatment can work for everyone, and it may not work to the same extent. There are still clinical trials happening about the matter.

Is Alopecia Universalis Curable?

No, there is no alopecia universalis cure as it is an autoimmune disease. However, it’s treatable and/or manageable, meaning it can be kept under control or reversed as much as possible.

Can Hair Transplant Treat Alopecia Universalis?

Unfortunately, a hair transplant can not be a treatment option for alopecia universalis. For a hair transplant to work, your service provider needs to take hair follicles from the donor site on your body. 


Alopecia universalis affects all the hair around the body. In short, because people with this condition do not have sufficient hair on their bodies, hair transplantation cannot be done.

Alopecia Universalis Regrowth Signs

You can see patchy regrowth on your scalp and the rest of your body. Also, you may see that the hair growing back is white or colorless. This can happen because the alopecia universalis also attacks the pigment-producing cells. 

After a few months, they will start functioning back and you will regain your original hair color.

(1) Alopecia universalis | Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD) – an NCATS Program. 

(2) Burroway B, Griggs J, Tosti A. Alopecia totalis and universalis long‐term outcomes: a review. Journal of The European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology. 2020;34(4):709-715. 

(3) Kassira S, Korta DZ, Chapman LW, Dann F. Review of treatment for alopecia totalis and alopecia universalis. International Journal of Dermatology. 2017;56(8):801-810.