Apart from androgenetic alopecia (the medical term for either male or female pattern hair loss), there are a few other types of hair loss which will be explained in detail throughout this article.
Alopecia is the medical term for hair loss in general and can either be temporary or permanent.
“Androgenetic Alopecia”, the most common form of hair loss, can be broken down in 2 parts: “Androgens”, a combination of various male hormones, and “Genetic”, the inheritance of genes that causes hair loss and is either inherited from the mother’s or the father’s side.
Distinguishing the types of baldness can be difficult sometimes and that’s why I am going to get to the bottom of this topic so you can easily classify your type of hair loss.
Alopecia Areata – The “Spontaneous” Type
This type of hair loss is considered to be a common autoimmune disorder which results in an unpredictable and sudden hair loss.
Characteristic for alopecia areata is a patchy hair loss which mostly occurs in small circular areas in different parts of the scalp.
Anyone under the age of 30 can be affected by this condition. Here are some interesting facts about alopecia areata:
- 1 in 5 people who have this condition have a family member who has had it in the past.
- Alopecia areata can almost happen “overnight”.
- People who have experienced the condition often recover spontaneously without being treated.
- It is scientifically unknown if stress might be a factor that causes alopecia areata.
- Although there is currently no proper treatment that could cure the condition, some doctors suggest the prescription of medications that promote hair growth including Minoxidil (Rogaine).
- It is thought that chronic stress, stressful or traumatic events could trigger the condition as well.
- If left unchecked, alopecia areata might even progress to alopecia totalis.
Alopecia Totalis – Gone For Good?
Alopecia totalis is the type of hair loss where all of your hair falls out. It is a skin condition that causes complete baldness of the scalp, which can begin as alopecia areata until the bald spots become bigger and spread until the entire scalp is bald.
Although doctors and scientists haven’t been able to find the causes of alopecia totalis, it is known that the condition is caused by a problem of the immune system.
People under 40 years tend to have a higher risk of being affected by alopecia totalis and again, some people might have a genetic predisposition for this condition. If you go to your doctor, he will conduct a physical examination of your scalp in order to check its hair loss pattern.
The second thing he will probably do is undergo some further testing by removing a skin sample of your scalp, which is called a “biopsy”, and send it to the lab for further examination. Alopecia totalis can be treated with Minoxidil (Rogaine) as well.
Alopecia Universalis – A Careless Hairless?
Alopecia Universalis is a condition that causes hair loss not only on your scalp, but also on your whole body. Watch out for the following key signs:
- scalp hair
- body hair
You might even notice hair loss on odd places like inside of your nose, on your pubic area or in your armpits.
The affected areas might as well itch or burn. Just like alopecia areata, alopecia universalis is an autoimmune disorder as well where the immune system attacks its own cells.
The hair follicles are mistaken for invaders and, as a result, get attacked by the immune system as a defense mechanism, resulting in hair loss. Your doctor will proceed with a scalp biopsy and, if needed, perform blood work to eliminate other conditions that can cause hair loss as well.
Anagen Effluvium – When Your Hair Is Refusing To Grow
This condition stops your hair growth despite being in the hair growth cycle (anagen phase).
Due to environmental factors, the hair cells are stopped being divided which makes your hair become brittle and break away. Instead of shedding at the root, your hair will break off at the hair shaft.
These 2 factors are the main causes of Anagen Effluvium:
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy agents can lead to hair loss by poisoning the growing hair follicle by stopping the mitotic process (cell division) of your hair.
- Alopecia Areata: People who are affected by this disorder may be prone to anagen effluvium as well.
After reviewing your medical history, your doctor will likely examine your scalp and eliminate other causes of hair loss. Under normal circumstances, it will be enough to remove the environmental factor that causes the hair loss, in case the hair follicle is not completely destroyed.
This is why most people are able to grow back their hair after chemotherapy. Medications like Minoxidil (Rogaine) can be used for the treatment of Anagen Effluvium as well.
Telogen Effluvium – Thin, Thinner, Thinnest
Telogen effluvium is the second most common form of hair loss and occurs, when the number of hair follicles that are supposed to be growing hair, changes.
During the resting phase (telogen phase) of hair growth, the number of hair follicles lowers and leads to more inactive hair follicles.Telogen effluvium is a temporary form of hair loss resulting in a thinning of hair on the scalp.
While multiple areas can be affected by thinning, some areas, mostly the top of the scalp, are affected the most.
It is highly unlikely that telogen effluvium causes the hairline to recede as well as a total loss of hair .
These factors can cause telogen effluvium:
- other conditions (e.g. alopecia areata)
If you know what’s triggering the condition, you will likely be able to recover. Minoxidil can also help to grow your hair back when you are suffering from telogen effluvium.
Traction Alopecia – Pull It Up!
Traction alopecia is caused by repeatedly pulling on your hair.
Your hair can be pulled by wearing tight buns, braids, such as cornrows or dreadlocks, ponytails or hair extensions, which means that the only thing you ought to do is to simply stop pulling your hair ASAP!
If you don’t take any action, it might happen that your hair loss is irreversible. If these symptoms apply to you, you might be suffering from traction alopecia:
- redness of the scalp
- soreness of the scalp
- folliculitis (inflammation of the hair follicles)
- blisters on your scalp
Seeing a dermatologist is the first thing you have to do as soon as you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above. Your doctor will prescribe either antibiotics, topical steroids, anti fungal shampoos, biotin supplements or Rogaine to regrow your hair.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment and I will be more than happy to help you out!
Founder of The Hairy Solution