Alopecia is simply the scientific name for hair loss on the scalp or any other hairy part of the body. It can be caused by many different things and may manifest in different ways. That is why we have different variations to the word alopecia. According to the Mayo Clinic’s article they are as follows:
Causes of Alopecia
Most people normally shed 50 to 100 hairs a day. But with about 100,000 hairs in the scalp, this amount of hair loss shouldn’t cause noticeable thinning of the scalp hair. As people age, hair tends to gradually thin. Other causes of hair loss include hormonal factors, medical conditions and medications.
The most common cause of hair loss is a hereditary condition called male-pattern baldness or female-pattern baldness. In genetically susceptible people, certain sex hormones trigger a particular pattern of permanent hair loss. Most common in men, this type of hair thinning can begin as early as puberty.
Hormonal changes and imbalances can also cause temporary hair loss. This could be due to pregnancy, childbirth, discontinuation of birth control pills or the onset of menopause.
Alopecia Types of Hair Loss
Alopecai areata, Alopecia universalis, Alopecia totalis, Telegon effluvium.
Alopecia areata is a skin condition that can affects hair follicles and results in patches of hair loss or baldness. This
condition does not result from any other illness and is a result of other factors. It is not a permanent condition and your hair may grow back after wards although some people may experience permanent hair loss.
What causes Alopecia Areata?
It has been suggested through research studies that alopecia areata is caused by an imbalance in the immune system. This leads to the system attacking the hair follicles and stops the hair from growing normally. The following article will explain more about the other issues that may cause this condition.
As with other autoimmune diseases, alopecia areata is linked to an increased risk of acquiring other autoimmune diseases and, specifically lupus erythematosus.
There are several ideas as to what exactly causes alopecia areata. The factor involving an individual’s gene appears to be an important consideration for those who suffer from alopecia areata usually have other family members who have been affected too.
Research suggests that the combination of certain genes make some people more prone to develop alopecia areata.
Alopecia areata, a disease of hair loss, is neither painful nor contagious. Although there is no specific reason for the initiation and development of alopecia areata, there are factors in one’s environment that can trigger the onset of the disease. These factors may be biological or emotional. Some common causes and risk factors of alopecia areata are emotional stress, family history and genetic predisposition to the acquisition of alopecia areata, chemicals and chromosomal disorders such as Down’s syndrome.
People who have thyroid diseases, asthma, allergies and other autoimmune diseases such as diabetes, vitiligo, and rheumatoid arthritis are also at risk of developing alopecia areata.
Some other causes for the development of alopecia are as follows:
This is a hair loss type whereby the sufferer loses all the hair on their head and the rest of their body. That means that the person loses all the hair that they have ever had everywhere. This type of hair loss is not related to any illness at all although people who suffer from vitiligo and diseases of the thyroid are more susceptible to it. However, it is not rare to find people who are totally healthy developing Alopecia Universalis. The following article explains this condition in more detail.
In Alopecia Universalis, immune system cells called white blood cells attack the rapidly growing cells in the hair follicles that make the hair. The affected hair follicles become small and drastically slow down hair production. Fortunately, the stem cells that continually supply the follicle with new cells do not seem to be targeted. So the follicle always has the potential to regrow hair.
Scientists do not know exactly why the hair follicles undergo these changes, but they suspect that a combination of genes may predispose some people to the disease. In those who are genetically predisposed, some type of trigger–perhaps a virus or something in the person’s environment–brings on the attack against the hair follicles.
Alopecia Totalis is characterised by total hair loss from the scalp. It is considered to be an auto-immune condition whereby the immune system attacks the hair follicles leading to total baldness. Hair is also lost on the eyebrows, eyelids including all other facial hair. It mainly affects children and young adults below the age of 40, although any one can be affected by it. It generally affects more males than females. Hairloss.com says the following about this condition.
Alopecia Totalis is considered a skin disease because it occurs on the skin of the head, or scalp, and is usually diagnosed by a dermatologist. Experts agree that as troubling as it is to lose your hair, the disease does not include any type of physical illness, rashes, hives or itching, although a totally exposed scalp does require extra care from exposure to the elements, especially the sun.
Telegon effluvium is thinning of hair which occurs mostly on the scalp although in more serious cases it can affect other places on the body like the eyebrows and pubic area. It is mostly visible on the top of the scalp from where it usually starts. This condition is not permanent and sufferers do regain their hair after 6 months or within about a year. The following article explains this condition more thoroughly.
The Hair Growth Cycle
To understand telogen effluvium, we need to have some knowledge of the hair growth cycle. Hair does not grow continuously on the human scalp. The anagen (growing) phase for terminal hair can extend 3 to 7 years and is a reflection of the size of the hair follicle. Catagen is the transitional portion of the hair growth cycle, between anagen and telogen and lasts only 1 to 2 weeks. During this time, there is a rapid involution and regression of the hair follicle. The hair follicle then enters the telogen phase, which is a relatively fixed period of time, approximately 100 days, regardless of the size of the hair follicle. There is no growth of the hair shaft during this phase. It is at the end of the telogen phase that the entire hair shaft, also often referred to as the club hair, will spontaneously shed, while a new hair shaft is forming within the hair canal. The white bulb at the end of the hair, along with the loosely attached collection of friable debris gives the shed hair its characteristic appearance.
Alopecia Areata Treatments
Most studies report that there is no treatment for alopecia areata that has been proven to be completely effective. Often if the condition is not very serious, it is better to wait for the hair to re-grow. Sometimes the treatments will work for some and not for others. Treatments may range from steroid injections and creams to wigs. You have a range of options if you definitely wish to have your condition treated as elaborated in the following article:
In all forms of alopecia areata, the hair follicles remain alive and are ready to resume normal hair production whenever they receive the appropriate signal. In all cases, hair regrowth may occur even without treatment and even after many years.
There are no FDA approved treatments specifically for alopecia areata, alopecia areata totalis or alopecia areata universalis, however many medical professionals are willing to try treatments off label.
Mild, Patchy Alopecia Areata
There are treatment options available for mild, patchy alopecia areata (less than 50% scalp hair loss) though there is currently no acceptable treatment that works in all cases.
Alopecia affects different people in different ways and manifests different symptoms depending on the type. It also varies from mild symptoms to severe whereby the sufferer may retain some hair or go totally bald. Some of the conditions will heal with time but some may be permanent depending on individuals and genetics. However, research into the condition is on going and even where it is claimed there is no treatment, some doctors and dermatologists still try to help their patients as much as they can in order to reduce the symptoms and restore some self-esteem among sufferers.
- Hair Loss From Alopecia Areata (everydayhealth.com)
- Commonly Prescribed Glaucoma Drug May Be Effective In Treating Male Pattern Baldness And Other Forms Of Alopecia (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Hair Loss: The Stress Connection (dailyglow.com)