what is alopecia?
Alopecia is a medical condition where the scalp loses its hair. It can be temporary or permanent and it may affect only the scalp, or other parts of the body as well. There are many causes for this problem, including genetics, medications, stress, hormonal changes, etc.
The most common types of alopecia include:
Androgenetic Alopecia (AGA): This type of alopecia occurs when there is an imbalance in the hormones that cause hair growth. The hair follicles on the scalp become inactive and stop producing new hairs. As more and more hairs fall out, bald spots appear.
Female Pattern Baldness (FPB): This type of alopecia affects women who have inherited genes that make their hair lose its color and grow thin. Hair loss usually starts at the temples and progresses to the top of the head.
Telogen Effluvium (TEF): TEF happens after childbirth or during pregnancy. It’s also called “postpartum” alopecia. During this time, your body produces less estrogen than usual. Estrogen helps keep hair healthy by keeping the hair follicle active. When you don’t produce enough estrogen, the hair follicles close up and stop growing. After about 6 months, the hair grows back normally.
Male Pattern Baldness (MPB): MPB is caused by a hormone imbalance that makes hair follicles shrink instead of growing. Men with MPB often experience receding hairlines.
Traction Alopecia: Traction alopecia results from pulling on the hair too tightly. Over-tight braids, ponytails, tight hairstyles, and tight weaves can lead to traction alopecia.
what are the causes, symptoms, and diagnosis of alopecia?
The most common cause of baldness is male pattern baldness, which usually starts in the mid-20s and progresses to a complete head of hair loss by age 50. It’s caused by genetic factors (inherited) and hormonal changes that occur during puberty.
Other causes include:
Alopecia areata is a condition in which the body’s immune system attacks and destroys hair follicles, causing baldness or patchy hair loss. It can affect any part of the scalp but most commonly affects the frontotemporal area (the top of the head). The cause is unknown, although it may be triggered by stress, illness, or other factors.
Heredity plays a role in male pattern baldness. About 90 percent of people who are affected have inherited it from one of their parents. The exact cause of hereditary baldness isn’t known. But researchers believe it could involve genes located on chromosome 4.
Other factors include hormones and genetics. Hormones affect hair growth, and certain genetic mutations can lead to thinning hair. It is the most common form of hair loss in men and women, affecting about 50 million people worldwide.
There are two main symptoms of alopecia. First, the hair falls out. Second, the area becomes thinner, It is the most common form of hair loss in men and women, affecting about 80% of people by age 50.
People with alopecia may notice that they have fewer hairs than normal. They may also see patches of hair loss on the scalp. These areas may look like bald spots.
In some cases, people with alopecia will have signs of hair loss. Instead, they’ll just feel that their hair has been falling out for several years.
If you think you might have alopecia, talk to your doctor. He or she can perform tests to help diagnose the problem. Your doctor may ask questions about your family history and examine your scalp. You may need a skin biopsy to confirm the diagnosis.
What treatments are available for alopecia?
There are several different ways to treat alopecia. Some people choose to use over-the-counter products such as shampoos, moisturizers, and oils. Others prefer to see a doctor or dermatologist.
If you’re experiencing severe hair loss, you might need to consider using prescription medication. These drugs work by stimulating the hair follicles so they start growing again. They come in two forms: topical creams and pills.
Topical creams are applied directly to the scalp. They contain minoxidil, which stimulates hair growth. Minoxidil is FDA approved for treating male pattern baldness. However, it doesn’t work for everyone. You should talk to your doctor before trying it.
Pills are taken orally. They contain finasteride, which prevents hair loss. Finasteride works best if used long-term. It takes 2 years before you’ll notice any improvement.
How Can I Prevent Hair Loss?
You can prevent hair loss by taking steps to improve your overall health. This includes eating well, exercising regularly, and sleeping enough.
It’s also important to avoid stress. Stress can trigger hair loss. Try to relax when possible.
Some medications can cause hair loss. Talk to your doctor if you’re concerned about this possibility.
If you’ve noticed any changes in your hair, talk to your doctor right away, especially if you experience sudden hair loss.
type of hair loss: Male Pattern Baldness
Male pattern baldness (MPB):
is the most common form of hair loss. It usually begins at the temples and progresses toward the top of the head. Hair loss is caused by the miniaturization of hair follicles.
The condition typically appears during puberty. Men with MPB tend to have thicker hair on their heads than other men.
Female pattern baldness(FPB)
is less common than MPB. FPB tends to affect women who have thinning hair around the crown area. Hair loss occurs slowly over many years.
Androgenic alopecia (AGA)
is another type of hair loss. AGA causes gradual thinning of hair on the front and back of the head. It usually begins after age 30.
Telogen Effluvium (TE):
TE is a temporary hair loss disorder. The cause is unknown. Symptoms include the shedding of large amounts of hair from the scalp.
Traction alopecia is hair loss due to tight hairstyles or braids.
TTM is a psychological problem characterized by compulsive pulling out of one’s own hair.
Tinea Capitis (TC):
TC is a fungal infection of the scalp.
Trichorrhexis nodosa (TN):
TN is a benign condition where hair shafts become brittle and break easily.
What’s the Difference Between Normal Hair Loss and Alopecia?
While a few strands of hair dropping off isn’t much of a worry, it’s important to understand what’s happening under the surface. You might think you’re losing just a few hairs every day, but that could actually mean something serious.
Your hair grows about half an inch each month. If you lose more than 50 strands per day over three months, you could be experiencing a sign of alopecia. There are several types of alopecia, including male pattern baldness, female pattern baldness, alopecia areata, androgenetic alopecia, telogen effluvium, trichotillomania, tinea capitis, and traction alopecia. Each type affects different areas of the body, but some types can cause similar symptoms.
Alopecia often starts gradually. As time goes on, you may notice that your hair is getting thinner. Eventually, you may find yourself completely bald.