Ophiasis Alopecia: Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment

Written by Anjali Sayee

Are you experiencing snake-patterned hair loss targeted only at the back of your scalp? Hair fall like this could be a symptom of ophiasis alopecia, a subtype of alopecia areata. Going through such hair loss can be traumatic. But here is the good news – certain treatment options can help control this hair fall. Keep reading to know more.

What Is Ophiasis Alopecia?

Ophiasis alopecia is a subsection of alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease. This condition is characterized by snake-like symmetric hair loss that often occurs at the back of your scalp. In some individuals, the hair fall may manifest on the sides of the scalp as well.

Ophiasis alopecia is known to affect younger people and is believed to be difficult to treat. It does not respond well to most medications. What causes this type of alopecia? We will explore the causes in the next section.

Causes Of Ophiasis Alopecia

Ophiasis alopecia is an autoimmune condition caused by a malfunctioning immune system. The white blood cells produced by the immune system start attacking the hair follicles. This leads to inflammation and eventual hair loss (1).

Ophiasis alopecia (and alopecia, in general) is almost always related to genes. Those with a family history of this condition are most likely to experience it (2).

One misconception prevalent among people is that ophiasis alopecia could be caused by extreme stress. While extreme stress may cause temporary hair loss, there is no research linking it to alopecia.

Let us now take a look at the signs and symptoms of ophiasis alopecia.

Signs And Symptoms Of Ophiasis Alopecia

Ophiasis alopecia is often seen in young adults, although it may occur in the later stages of life too. The major symptom of this condition is hair loss in the characteristic snake-like pattern. One may also experience changes in nail color and texture. Nails with white spots and lines or nails losing their shine are the other signs to watch out for. As per anecdotal evidence, thinning of fingernails and toenails could also be the early signs of ophiasis alopecia.

Another sign of ophiasis alopecia is the loss of thick, long hair and an increase in miniature hair patterns in the affected areas (3).

Let us take a look at certain treatment methods that may help keep ophiasis alopecia under control.

Treatment For Ophiasis Alopecia

1. Minoxidil

Minoxidil is a popular over-the-counter medication useful for hair regrowth (4). The medication is available in liquid, foam, and cream formulations and is very easy to use. Applying the medication to the affected areas may help with hair regrowth. However, one must be aware that the medication can take anywhere between 6 months to 1 year to show its effects. Ophiasis alopecia may not respond to medications quickly, and this may mean a longer wait for some. Patience is key.

Note: Consult your doctor before using minoxidil for treating ophiasis alopecia.

2. Corticosteroids

Corticosteroids are another popular medication for treating alopecia (2). Their anti-inflammatory properties may help suppress the inflammation caused by a malfunctioning immune system. Corticosteroids are available as injections and topical ointments.

3. Microneedling

Microneedling could help in the treatment of ophiasis alopecia (3). The method involves small punctures made on the scalp with microneedles. These continuous, small punctures may promote collagen production and help with hair regrowth.

4. Hair Transplantation

Not always can medication help with hair regrowth. In such cases, opting for full hair transplantation might be a good idea. The process involves removing small patches of hair from the scalp’s unaffected areas and planting them on the affected areas.

While the treatment options are promising, isn’t preventing the condition more desirable? But can you prevent ophiasis alopecia?

Preventing Ophiasis Alopecia

Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent ophiasis alopecia as it is an autoimmune disorder primarily caused by genes. However, you may delay its onset by keeping your immune system healthy and consuming foods rich in anti-inflammatory properties. Such foods include broccoli, blueberries, and salmon.


Losing hair suddenly and rapidly may hurt your mental health. A proper diet and the right lifestyle may delay the onset of ophaisis alopecia, and the right treatment methods may help control it. But should you feel anxious about the hair fall, reach out to a support group or your doctor.

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  1. Alopecia areata: a review of disease pathogenesis
  2. Alopecia areata update
  3. Ophiasis alopecia areata treated with microneedling
  4. Topical minoxidil solution (1% and 5%) in the treatment of alopecia areata
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Anjali Sayee is a writer and an introvert. From studying Aeronautical Engineering and wanting to design her own airplane to writing articles on hairstyles, she has been on quite a journey. She believes that hair is one of the key factors that define a woman’s personality. To quote her, “What’s the first thing they do in the movies to show a personality change? Change the hair – because it has a life of its own.” She’s here to help you find the hairstyle you need. This bookworm is a self-professed Wholocker, a talented drummer, and an amateur photographer.