Is mononucleosis ("mono") a trigger for alopecia areata?
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease. Environmental factors play a role in many patients to trigger the disease in patients who have the correct genetic predisposition to the disease. Studies have examined whether environmental factors like stress, as well as various infections play a role in alopecia areata.
EBV: The Cause of Mono
Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) is the virus known to cause the infectious illness mononucleosis which is sometimes just called 'mono'. A 2008 study examined whether mononucleosis could be a trigger for alopecia areata. This particular study examined 6256 individuals. 1586 patients reported an environmental trigger that was thought to cause the alopecia areata - including 12 individuals who had an EBV infection within 6 months before the onset of AA.
The role of EBV and mononucleosis is not proven definitively but there is some evidence that it could be a trigger for a small proportion of individuals. More studies are needed.
Rodriguez TA, et al. Onset of alopecia areata after Epstein-Barr virus infectious mononucleosis. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2008.
Dr. Jeff Donovan is a Canadian and US board certified dermatologist specializing exclusively in hair loss. To schedule a consultation, please call the Whistler office at 604.283.1887