Medical Definition of Alopecia
Alopecia: Baldness. There are many types of alopecia, each with a different cause. Alopecia may be localized to the front and top of the head as in common male pattern baldness. It may be patchy as in a condition called alopecia areata. A variant of alopecia involves the entire head and is called alopecia capitis totalis. The word "alopecia" comes from the Greek "alopex" for "fox." Foxes are less furry when afflicted with a skin disease (the "mange") which causes them to lose their hair. When a fancier word for "baldness" was sought, the mangy fox supplied it -- "alopecia" or, if you wish, "fox-mange" -- not a very positive image to associate with baldness.
Quick GuideHair Loss: Causes, Treatments, and Prevention
Subscribe to MedicineNet's Skin Care & Conditions Newsletter