Is alopecia areata caused by stress? Expand The exact cause of alopecia areata is not known. It is understood to be an autoimmune condition. Research evidence is limited, however scientists believe it is likely that there are a number of causes/triggers. It is unlikely to be the same trigger/cause for everyone. These triggers could be something from inside the body or something outside the body, or a combination of both. Stress is a commonly quoted cause of alopecia areata but there are lots of people who cannot link their alopecia areata to a stressful event or period of stress. This article from researcher Professor Kevin McElwee provides a comprehensive look at the possible causes of alopecia areata and is an interesting read for anyone wanting to understand more about potential triggers.