Alopecia is the general medical term for hair loss. There are many types of hair loss with different symptoms and causes.
Some of the more common types of hair loss are described below, including:
Alopecia areata Scarring alopecia Anagen effluvium Telogen effluvium
Male- and female-pattern baldness
Male-pattern baldness is the most common type of hair loss, affecting around half of all men by 50 years of age. It usually starts around the late twenties or early thirties and most men have some degree of hair loss by their late thirties.
It generally follows a pattern of a receding hairline, followed by thinning of the hair on the crown and temples, leaving a horseshoe shape around the back and sides of the head. Sometimes it can progress to complete baldness, although this is uncommon.
Male-pattern baldness is hereditary, which means it runs in families. It's thought to be caused by oversensitive hair follicles, linked to having too much of a certain male hormone.
As well as affecting men, it can sometimes affect women (female-pattern baldness). During female-pattern baldness, hair usually only thins on top of the head.
It's not clear if female-pattern baldness is hereditary and the causes are less well understood. However, it tends to be more noticeable in women who have been through the menopause (when a woman's periods stop at around age 52), perhaps because they have fewer female hormones. There is no single explanation for hair loss but reasons can include:
Natural ageing process
Chemotherapy and radiotherapy
Hair loss can have a devastating effect. It’s important to know a hair loss problem earlier via a diagnosis because you will have a better chance of treating it. We always recommend seeing a qualified hair specialist to diagnose conditions. Common hair loss conditions include: Androgenic Alopecia (‘Pattern Baldness’) This is one of the most common forms of hair loss. It affects both men and women and occurs in distinct patterns. In men, this form of hair loss is very obvious. At the end of the process – which can take from 15-25yrs – the only hair remaining is at the sides and the back of the head. Roughly one third of all women are affected by this type of hair loss normally on the vertex (top of the head) with the front hairline often intact. The process of shedding is on average 50-100 hairs a day. Alopecia Areata This condition manifests itself in patchy hair loss, usually starting with a small spot that can spread. It is an auto-immune disease where the body attacks itself, killing off the hair. In general, the onset of alopecia can be caused by illness and raised temperature, shock, viruses, inoculations, medication or a period of extreme stress 2-6 months before a bald patch appears. It’s important to remember that early diagnosis and treatment can minimise the effects of the condition. Following diagnosis, many patients are extremely anxious which can also exacerbate the problem. It is advisable to seek specialist advice on how relieve stress and help hair growth to resume. Alopecia Totalis Alopecia Totalis is condition in which total loss of scalp hair occurs and can follow on from unchecked alopecia areata. Alopecia Universalis The result is a loss of all body hair including eyebrows and eyelashes. This form of hair loss is very distressing. Telogen Effluvium or ‘Diffuse Hair Loss’ This condition manifests itself in shedding from all parts of the scalp. A great deal of hair is shed before the effects become noticeable. Telogen Effluvium can be caused by high fever, thyroid, postnatal depression, anaemia, surgery, medication, emotional stress, shock, dental treatment, surgery or dieting. During pregnancy, high levels of female hormones generate healthy hair. Some women can experience diffuse hair loss after childbirth. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy hair loss Chemotherapy or radiotherapy drugs work by attacking rapidly-growing cancer cells in the body. Because hair follicle cells also multiply very quickly – like cancer cells – chemotherapy drugs have difficulty in discerning the difference. This means that cancer treatment also destroys fast-growing hair cells and the hair falls out. Damage is not irreparable however and hair usually grows back 6-8 weeks after chemotherapy treatment has ended. Trichotillomania A rare form of Alopecia that is extremely stressful and caused by a patient self-harming i.e. pulling his or her own hair out. Given the psychology surrounding this condition, sufferers may not initially admit to pulling their hair out. Although young children can be particularly prone to Trichotillomania, it normally affects adolescent age groups. Scarring Conditions Several scarring conditions may includeLichen Planus, Lupus Erythematosus, Folliculitis Decalvans and Pseudo Pelade. These conditions can be slowly progressive and scarring of the scalp causes permanent hair loss. Traction Alopecia A condition often caused by hair extensions or hair styles that cause physical trauma to the scalp e.g. cornrows, tight braiding which causes patchy to total hair loss prodominately around the hairline becomes weak and stops growing.
In addition to hair loss problems, scalp disorders can include: Dandruff (Pityriasis capitis) – This condition is all too familiar and about half of all Caucasians will have had dandruff to some degree before they are 20. In most people, it disappears after the age of 50 or so. Dandruff is associated with a tiny yeast called pityrosporum ovale, which is normally permanently present on the scalp. In dandruff, there is an increase in the regular loss of cells from the skin surface and they are lost more quickly. As more cells are lost, the yeast grows more rapidly. These cells may clump together to produce the all-too-familiar flakes of dandruff. Eczema and Dermatitis Psoriasis – Chronic skin condition affecting 3% of the population. It appears as raised, inflamed skin topped with silvery white scales. In severe cases the whole of the scalp may be covered by scales and there may well be some hair loss. Severe cases are extremely uncomfortable and distressing. Seborrhoeic Dermatitis – Scaling condition characterised by yellow, branny scales on the scalp and red, irritated skin. It is sometimes associated by an unusually greasy scalp. In babies, the condition is known as ‘Cradle Cap’. It can also affect the nose, eyebrows and ears. In severe cases, Seborrhoeic Dermatitis may lead to hair loss. Infections Head Lice (Pediculosis Capitis) – Infestation of parasites living off human hosts. The hosts are 6-legged creatures, 2 – 4 mm in size and grey in colour. They are found near the hairline, at the nape of the neck and around the ears. This condition is highly infectious (ova hatch within 5-8 days). Lice can live off the human scalp for up to 48 hours in scarves, hats, chair backs, combs, brushes etc. Impetigo – Bacterial infection of the skin that results in weeping, crusted sores and produces itching. It is often seen in young children and is highly contagious. Ringworm – Fungal infection which appears as pink, scaly patches on the skin. It is more likely to be caught from animals than from humans. ADVICE AND HELP
Reassuringly, many scalp conditions can be prevented or cured and there are a number of treatments available. It is always advisable to act quickly. For further in-depth information call us on 0800 083 2312 or visit www.needahairmakeover.com to book free consultation