Alopecia is a medical term that refers to any type of hair loss. It can affect anyone, and it can be the result of medical conditions, environmental reasons, normal aging, or genetics. Hair loss is commonly considered a men’s health topic (nearly 2/3 of all men can expect some hair loss by age 60), but women make up 40% of all hair loss sufferers and about 3% of pediatric visits are for hair loss, according to the American Hair Loss Association. The most common type of hair loss is called androgenic alopecia, which is an inherited tendency that happens with aging.
Different Types of Hair Loss
The most common type of hair loss is called androgenic alopecia, which is a hereditary condition that stops producing new hair. Although androgenic alopecia occurs in both men and women, the pattern of hair loss is quite different. Male hairlines tend to recede, resulting in male pattern baldness. For women, the hair becomes thinner over the entire scalp, and the frontal hairline is usually spared.
This form of hair loss is characterized by a disproportionate number of hairs entering the telogen (resting) phase, without new hairs forming to replace them. Once these hairs are shed, they can leave the scalp with significantly less hair. This type of hair loss often accompanies major medical procedures but is not typically permanent nor leads to total baldness.
Anagen effluvium is when you lose hair during the anagen or growth stage of the hair cycle. Some of the main causes are infection, toxins, or chemotherapy.
This type of hair loss is a symptom of an autoimmune disease. The body’s immune system attacks healthy cells, including hair follicles. The process can be sudden and lead to complete baldness.
Tinea Capitis is a fungal infection likened to ringworm, as it often leaves a circular pattern of baldness. The scalp may be red and scaly, but the condition is treatable with antifungal medications.
This rare type of hair loss involves hair follicles being destroyed by inflammation and replaced by scar tissue.
Hair Shaft Abnormalities
These forms of hair loss affect the shaft of the hairs, rather than the follicles. Hair production may be normal, but the hairs are breaking, causing the volume to thin. These can often be treated by changing hair routines, but in some cases require medication.
Hair Loss Treatment: How to Stop Hair Loss
On a typical day, humans lose 50 to 100 hairs. If you start noticing unusual hair loss or thinning, the sooner you seek treatment, the better. Your Provider will first try to determine if you have an underlying medical condition, or what might be causing the hair loss.
There are over-the-counter options such as topical minoxidil (Rogaine). It is one of the most common hair loss treatments and is available in formulations for both men and women. Minoxidil can stimulate hair growth and slow down hair loss, but it cannot cure baldness, and it may take up to six months to see any results. Women who may become pregnant also shouldn’t use minoxidil.
Prescription-strength Propecia is another treatment used for cases of male pattern baldness or in women of non-childbearing potential. Platelet-Rich Plasma injections and hair transplants may also be used as a response to hair loss.
You can book an appointment to discuss hair loss treatments with an Alaska Center for Dermatology Provider today.