Two theories have been offered to elucidate the nature of alopecia areata. Perhaps the oldest theory is that it is a trophoneurosis. In 1847, Casenave associated alopecia areata and vitiligo together and believed both to be of nerve origin. In 1856, Baerensprung affirmed Casenave's idea that alopecia areata was of nerve origin, and this theory was later supported by Hebra and Kaposi in Vienna, Erasmus Wilson in England and Duhring in the United States. With the coming of the bacteriologic era in the latter part of the nineteenth century the theory that the disease might be of infectious origin gained in favor. This idea was given considerable support by the reporting in the literature of numerous epidemics of alopecia areata in schools. Bowen,1 in reviewing epidemics reported by Fox, Dreuw, Haldan Davis and himself, came to the conclusion that these epidemics were probably not the same as the sporadic
WRIGHT CS, Harkins MJ. ETIOLOGY OF ALOPECIA AREATA: WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO THE EFFECT OF EXPERIMENTAL NERVE INJURIES. Arch Derm Syphilol. 1929;19(3):365–377. doi:10.1001/archderm.1929.02380210020002
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