What is alopecia areata? Alopecia areata is a disease that causes hair loss. In alopecia areata, the immune system attacks the structures in skin that form hair (hair follicles). Alopecia areata usually affects the head and face, though hair can be lost from any part of the body. Hair typically falls out in small, round patches about the size of a quarter. In some cases, hair loss is more extensive.
What is vitiligo? Vitiligo is a chronic (long-lasting) disorder that causes areas of skin to lose color. When skin cells that make color are attacked and destroyed, the skin turns a milky-white color. No one knows what causes vitiligo, but it may be an autoimmune disease. In people with autoimmune diseases, the immune cells attack the body’s own healthy tissues by mistake, instead of viruses or bacteria. A person with vitiligo sometimes may have family members who also have the disease. There is no cure for vitiligo, but treatment may help skin tone appear more even.