Hair loss can be a traumatic experience for anyone to undergo, but there are many solutions available. Alopecia is one of the most common forms of hair loss, affecting men, women and children. Here’s what you need to know about alopecia and what can be done to address it. 

What is Alopecia?

Alopecia areata, which is the most common of the alopecia types, is an autoimmune disorder whereby the white blood cells attack the hair follicles. This causes them to shrink, slowing hair production and resulting in unpredictable hair loss. Although there’s no known cure, it does sometimes resolve itself

What Are the Causes of Alopecia?

Despite the prevalence of alopecia, there is no solid evidence indicating what the cause of the autoimmune disorder is. It’s believed that genetics do play a part, as alopecia areata is more likely to occur when a relative has the disease. In addition, research shows that many with a family history of alopecia areata also have a family history of other autoimmune disorders, including vitiligo and thyroiditis. Although stress is believed to trigger it, there isn’t any scientific evidence to show it is the cause of alopecia. 

What Are the Types of Alopecia?

There are various forms of alopecia that will need to be diagnosed by a medical professional. Here’s a look at the most dominant types. 

Alopecia Areata 

As mentioned, alopecia areata is the most common form and usually starts with coin-sized patches on the scalp or other places on the body. This is a ‘patchy’ form of the disorder but may develop into alopecia totalis or alopecia universalis. 

Persistent Alopecia Areata

This is a form of alopecia areata that continues over a longer period of time without ever developing into alopecia totalis or universalis. 

Alopecia Totalis

Alopecia totalis is an advanced form of hair loss that results in total hair loss on the entire scalp. 

Alopecia Universalis

Alopecia Universalis is more serious than alopecia totalis where the hair loss extends across the entire scalp, onto the face (eyebrows and eyelashes) and the rest of the body. 

Diffuse Alopecia Areata

This is a sudden thinning of the hair all over the scalp and can be difficult to diagnose as it’s often confused with other forms of hair loss such as male- or female-pattern balding or telogen effluvium. 

Ophiasis Alopecia

This form of alopecia results in hair loss on the sides and lower back of the scalp forming a band shape. It often doesn’t respond as quickly to medication. 

What Are the Symptoms of Alopecia?

If you suspect you’re suffering from alopecia, it’s best to seek a diagnosis from a medical professional, however, you can look out for certain symptoms. These include:

  • Coin-sized patches of hair falling out on the scalp. 
  • Affected hair growth anywhere on the body. 
  • Possible itching or burning before hair loss. 
  • Receding hairline or thinning hair.
  • Possible changes to fingernails and toenails such as pinpoint dents, white spots, thinning and splitting. 

Alopecia Areata in Men

Hair loss is often more significant in men and can occur on the face, scalp, chest or back. Unlike male-pattern baldness, the hair loss is patchy. 

Alopecia Areata in Women

Women are more likely to develop alopecia areata, with gradual thinning of the hair on the scalp, eyebrows and lashes. The hair loss can occur all at once or gradually. 

Alopecia Areata in Children

It can affect children, with the condition often first appearing before the age of 30. In addition to hair loss, children often experience nail defects such as splitting and lesions. 

What Are the Solutions for Alopecia?

An estimated 30% of people who develop alopecia areata will endure repeated hair loss and regrowth. However, more than 50% of those with alopecia areata will recover from the condition within a year but may experience it more than once. Around 10% will go on to develop alopecia totalis or alopecia Universalis. Because it’s such an unpredictable condition, many seek some form of medical intervention. These include:

Corticosteroids

Corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory drugs commonly prescribed for any autoimmune disease. They are either injected into the affected area, given as a pill, or rubbed as an ointment onto the skin. They can often take a long time to work. 

Topical Immunotherapy 

These are chemicals that are applied to the scalp to produce an allergic reaction that stimulates hair growth. These may cause an itchy rash and need to be applied repeatedly. 

Rogaine (or Minoxidil)

Similarly, this is also applied directly to the affected area like topical treatments, however, it can take up to three months before you can see results. 

Non-Medical Solutions

Whether permanent or not, many with alopecia prefer a hair loss solution that doesn’t require medical treatment. That’s why hair enhancement options are becoming incredibly popular. 

  • High-end wigs provide a long-term solution for those requiring a natural appearance. They come in a range of styles and can be customised to your particular needs. 
  • Scalp micro pigmentation treatment gives the appearance of a shaved head or hair density without the need for hair transplantation surgery.
  • Hair extensions, hair enhancers, and hair toppers integrate with your own hair and can be designed to create a bespoke, natural look. 

Why Choose Hair to Ware?

Based in Ware, Hertfordshire, Hair to Ware provides a complete hair enhancement service to treat all forms of hair loss, including alopecia. In fact, Amanda Haldenby, the director of Hair to Ware has alopecia herself and is able to approach all customers with compassion and understanding. 

This bespoke hair clinic has devoted hair loss specialists, treating men and women, as well as children from as young as two years. To find out more, contact Hair to Ware today.