Alopecia is a severe form of hair loss that often occurs involuntarily in someone at a given stage of their life. It doesn't have to necessarily be associated with old age, it can occur at even the youngest of ages. Although alopecia can occur anywhere on the body, it is most distressing when it affects the scalp. It can range from a small bare patch, which is easily masked by hairstyling to a more diffuse and obvious pattern. In 1-2% of cases, the condition can spread to the entire scalp (Alopecia totalis) or to the entire epidermis (Alopecia universalis). Some people may lose more hair. Rarely, the disease causes total loss of hair on the head or complete loss of hair on the head, face, and body. Alopecia crop up particularly on the area of the head and hair of this part is almost defected by the disease.
Types of Alopecia
There are many subtypes of Alopecia including: Androgenetic Alopecia, Alopecia Areata, Traction Alopecia, Alopecia Universalis and so on. Some are explained below:
1. Alopecia Areata : This type of alopecia is rather unstable because sometimes the hair will grow back again even without medical attention, while in other cases the hair loss is permanent and may even progress further. In alopecia areata, the immune system attacks the hair follicles. Alopecia areata is unpredictable and patients usually present with several episodes of hair loss and regrowth during their lifetime. Recovery from hair loss may be complete, partial, or nonexistent.
2. Androgenic Alopecia : This type of alopecia is characterised by progressive, patterned hair loss from the scalp and its prerequisites are a genetic predisposition and sufficient circulating androgens. It is attributed to the overproduction of the androgenic hormone called testosterone which usually is produced in large quantities in male bodies but not to a very significant degree in women under normal conditions.
3. Telogen Effluvium : Telogen effluvium is also called temporary hair loss. Telogen effluvium is an abnormality of hair cycling, which results in excessive loss of telogen (resting phase of hair cycles) hairs and is most common in women.
4. Androgenetic Alopecia : Androgenetic alopecia is the type of alopecia that is considered hereditary. It is also known as male pattern baldness, although it can also affect women. In androgenetic alopecia, the hair on the scalp turns nearly transparent before falling off.
5. Traction Alopecia : When a person is prone to pulling too much at his or her hair due to styling perhaps or personal habits, the excessive pulling can discourage the hair follicles to stop developing new cells for new hair. The shedding that occurs as a result is called traction alopecia.
Causes and Risk Factors
Alopecia tends to occur most often in children and young adults. However, it can also affect older individuals. Alopecia can certainly be the cause of psychological stress. Genetic factors seem to play an important role since there is a higher frequency of a family. There are several different hypotheses as to what causes alopecia areata. In alopecia areata, the immune system attacks the hair follicles. For people whose genes put them at risk for the disease, some type of trigger starts the attack on the hair follicles. The triggers may be a virus or something in the person's environment.
Sign and Symptoms
Common sign and symptoms of alopecia disease are as follows:
Roundish patches of hair loss on the head.
Hairless scalp or hair loss in the affected areas.
Temporary hair loss
Patchy hair loss
Alopecia areata often occurs in people whose family members have other autoimmune diseases, such as:
Diabetes Rheumatoid arthritis Thyroid disease Systemic lupus erythematosus Pernicious anemia Addison's disease.
Effective Treatment Methods and Tips
There are several available treatments for Alopecia. Two relatively new drugs-minoxidil (Rogaine) and finasteride (Proscar)-promote hair growth in a significant minority of patents.
Anti-inflammatory drugs that are prescribed for autoimmune diseases. Corticosteroids can be given as an injection into the scalp or other areas, orally (as a pill), or applied topically (rubbed into the skin) as an ointment, cream, or foam.
Another surgical procedure used to treat androgenic alopecia is scalp reduction.
When hair loss is extensive, wigs may be worn; there is also the option of hair transplantation (using minigrafts).