Alopecia areata is one of the most disfiguring and least well understood of all types of baldness. Its sudden onset in either sex, and at any age, its tendency toward remissions and relapses, and its bizarre morphology, characterized by the irregular distribution of circular patches of alopecia over the scalp and body, or by total alopecia, have never been satisfactorily explained. Many factors have been blamed, including psychic and physical trauma, reflex irritation, various toxins and infections, and endocrine disturbances, but there is no statistical proof that any of them is more than coincidental. In many patients none of these factors is demonstrable.
Moreover, no consistently effective method of treatment has been devised. Several measures are claimed to be of benefit in the localized form of the disease, but proof of their value, in the form of controlled therapeutic experiments, is not available. Since spontaneous regrowth of hair occurs in