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Alopecia: Types of Hair Loss and How to Identify Them

Outline: Facts regarding different types of hair loss experienced by men and women.

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It's a common situation for most of us to shed around 75 to 100 strands of hair per day. The typical hair growth cycle of a person can last around 2 to 6 years and the scalp can regrow fresh hairs in approximately twelve weeks. On the other hand, lots of people will shed more than 100 strands of hair per day. Sadly there is an increasing number of males and females who experience baldness and the numbers are increasing every day.

Alopecia is defined as a loss of hair from the head or body. Baldness can refer to general hair loss or androgenic alopecia (male pattern baldness). Some types of baldness can be caused by alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder. The extreme forms of alopecia areata are alopecia totalis, which involves the loss of all head hair, and alopecia universalis, which involves the loss of all hair from the head and the body.

There are different types of hair loss and below are the most common:

Androgenic Alopecia

It is common type of hair loss that affects both men and women. It is also known as male pattern baldness for men, described as the loss or thinning of hair on the head's crown or hairline shrinking from the temples. A U-shaped hair pattern around the back and sides of the head normally stays or hair may keep on falling out, leading to complete baldness as time passes.

Alopecia Areata

A condition generated when the immune system of the body targets the hair follicles and disturbs the natural hair growth and formation. It is still unknown what causes it, but it seems to be an anomaly wherein the immune system targets specific body tissues. Biopsies of the skin affected reveal immune cells within the follicles of hair, when they are not present normally. Alopecia areata is oftentimes linked to other autoimmune conditions like ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, vitiligo, thyroid disease and allergic disorders. Alopecia areata in some cases happens in several members of the family, indicating a role of heredity and genes.

Alopecia Universalis

This is the most advanced type of alopecia and it is described as the total hair loss all over the body. Because absence of hairs in the body leaves areas like nasal cavity, eyes and scalp very exposed, it is very important that those with this condition take special care to guard themselves from the bacteria, sun and other extremely dangerous elements.

Alopecia Totalis

It is an auto-immune disorder resulting in total hair loss, but on the scalp only. It is a condition intermediary between alopecia areata and alopecia universalis. Alopecia totalis normally shows up in two types, first being a fairly quick and complete hair loss in the head. Second being a slower type which starts as patchy loss (alopecia areata) and develops to total hair loss in the scalp.

Ophiasis

It is a type of alopecia areata wherein the loss of hair happens in a wave-like shape surrounding the head.

Traction Alopecia

Is a hair loss condition resulting from damage to the hair follicle and papilla from continuous tension or pulling over a lengthy period of time. It usually happens in people who put on braids that are tight particularly "cornrows" that result in pulling, high tension and hair breakage. It can also be a consequence of cosmetic surgery that generates hair tension, like facelifts.

Illustration shows receding hairline on the scalp and hair follicles
Illustration shows receding hairline on the scalp and hair follicles

Chignon Alopecia

It is a type of traction alopecia wherein hair loss takes place at the crown of the head. It usually happens when the hair is shaped or styled in a tight bundle for a very long time period. This is typically common in ballet dancers.

Hypotricosis

It is a condition where there is absolutely no hair growth. As opposed to alopecia, where previously there was growth of hair, hypotrichosis on the other hand occurs where there was no growth of hair to begin with.

Telogen Effluvium

It is a loss of hair that occurs when the hair follicles are pushed prematurely in the growth's resting stage by illness or stress.

Trichotillomania

It is disorder where an individual pulls their hair compulsively, leading to observable hair loss.

Lichen Planopilaris

It is a disease that commonly affects the mouth and skin. It can lead to irritation, redness and permanent hair loss in some cases.

Trichorrhexis nodosa

It is a hair fiber defect seen as a swelling and fraying nodes in specific spots down the hair fiber's length due to the lack of a cuticle layer.

Folliculitis

This is a bacterial condition that causes irritation to the hair follicles and is probably one of the most familiar kinds of skin infection. Even though it is generally insignificant, it can generate substantial disease. It can be deep or superficial, and leads to the development of an inflammatory nodule encircling the hair. Hairs that are infected can be removed easily.

This article was written by Carl who blogs about hair loss treatments for hairlossgeeks.com and is currently using Rogaine to treat his hair loss.

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