Hair loss affects millions of people, and it can be emotionally and financially stressful, especially when it occurs at an early age. Many of us think that it is something that only happens to other people – but sadly – the statistics say otherwise.
Hair loss is caused by so many different factors, some of which are treatable while others are not.
This article will explore the different types of hair loss and the causes behind each one. Hopefully, this added information will help those who are trying to understand what is happening to them or a loved one, and what can be done about it.
Androgenetic alopecia is the most common form of hair loss and can affect both men and women. It’s caused by a genetic predisposition that causes your body to produce an excess of dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
WebMD tells us, “ DHT is a sex hormone that is a derivative of testosterone, but excess amounts of this hormone can affect the hair follicles. DHT interferes with the hair’s growth cycle, shrinking and shortening the hair making it easier for it to fall out and more difficult for it to grow back.
The symptoms of this type of hair loss usually start with gradual thinning of the crown area and progress over time to include receding hairlines. In some cases, men may notice a pattern resembling an M-shape on their scalp as the crown thins, along with an expanding bald spot at the top of their heads.
Women tend not to experience these patterns as much but are more likely than men to experience eyebrow recession or a widening part of their scalp.
There is currently no cure for androgenetic alopecia, but it can be managed with medication or surgery if you choose to take that route.
Male Pattern Hair Loss
Male pattern hair loss (MPHL) is usually a result of androgenetic alopecia and is the most common type of hair loss in men. While it’s normal for everyone to lose around 100 hairs per day, men suffering from MPHL will lose far more than that as many of these discarded strands were actually new growth but became too weak or broken down to continue growing any further.
Female Pattern Hair Loss
Female pattern hair loss (FPHL) is the most common form of hair loss in women. Because FPHL is related to genetics and hormones, other factors, such as stress, can worsen the condition.
Telogen effluvium occurs when your hair goes into a resting (telogen) phase and does not restart the usual growth stage of the hair cycle. It’s often caused by an underlying medical condition, such as thyroid problems or iron deficiency anaemia.
Certain medications can trigger this type of hair loss, which include acne medications and blood thinners such as Warfarin. Additionally, starting or stopping contraceptives could initiate telogen effluvium in women.
With correct treatment, hair will usually grow back after a few months.
Anagen effluvium is a form of hair loss that occurs when the hair follicle is destroyed or damaged. This could be caused by chemotherapy, radiation therapy or other medications that damage the fast-growing cells in your body.
Hair loss usually starts one to three months after treatment begins, but it can occur up to six months after treatment has been completed.
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease that causes the body to mistakenly attack its own hair follicles. Not only does the hair fall out, but the follicles are prevented from making new hair. It can occur at any age and affects all races and ages.
Symptoms of alopecia areata display as loss of hair in patches on your scalp or body (for example, eyebrows or eyelashes). The affected area will be smooth and flat instead of having hair growing from it as normal skin does. The size and shape of these bald patches vary from person to person; they may also disappear for months at a time before reappearing in another location on your body.
Tinea capitis, also known as scalp ringworm, is an infection that causes hair loss, itching and scaling. It’s caused by a fungus called Trichophyton tonsurans. Treatment for tinea capitis includes antifungal medication or shampooing with an antifungal shampoo. When caught and treated early, most people will enjoy a quick recovery and full hair regrowth.
Cicatricial alopecia is a form of hair loss triggered by inflammation which results in scar tissue forming on the hair follicle. This type of scarring often results in permanent hair loss, as the damage destroys the follicles. Cicatricial alopecia can be caused by burns, infections and other conditions. Cicatricial alopecia is most commonly associated with patchy baldness on the temples and vertex (the back of your head).
Lichen planopilaris is a disorder that causes irritation of the hair follicles and the scalp. It is seen more in females than males, although it can happen to anyone. A common skin condition known as lichen planus starts to affect the scalp which results in a dry, flaky rash after which the hair will fall out – often in clumps.
Discoid Lupus Erythematosus
Discoid lupus erythematosus is a chronic skin condition that causes inflammation of the skin, hair loss and scaly skin, as well as redness and sensitivity to light.
The cause of discoid lupus erythematosus is unknown but it seems to be triggered by an autoimmune disorder in which your immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue such as your skin cells.
Folliculitis decalvans occurs when the hair follicles become inflamed and break open, causing pustules to form in the surrounding skin. This condition most often occurs as a result of trauma, burns, or skin infections like staph and ringworm.
Symptoms include multiple small red bumps on your scalp that look like pimples or boils, followed by hair loss a few weeks later. Some people also experience itching around their faces or bodies, as well as fever and fatigue (although this isn’t common).
Frontal Fibrosing Alopecia
Frontal Fibrosing Alopecia (FFA) is a form of alopecia that affects the hairline in the frontal area. It’s characterized by a progressive loss of hair from the frontal scalp that may be evident as early as 20 years of age, often starting as eyebrow loss.
FFA is associated with inflammation and scarring of the hair follicles, leading to progressive distortion and recession of the hairline on the forehead. The disease can occur on its own or in association with other autoimmune diseases such as lichen planopilaris (LPP), discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE) and scleroderma.
Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia
A type of alopecia that can lead to permanent hair loss if not caught early is central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia. Over-styling and excessive use of hair products and chemicals damages the hair follicles, causing the hair to fall out. The best way to combat this disorder is to stop using noxious hair products and aggressive styling techniques and talk to a trichologist or dermatologist who will recommend hair and scalp care products.
Loose Anagen Syndrome
Loose anagen syndrome, or LAS, is a rare form of hair loss that occurs when the hair within the follicle detaches very easily from the scalp. This usually displays as hair that seems to stop growing at a certain length and then simply falls away, and can be exacerbated by friction or harsh styling or brushing. Usually present in children, this disorder can rectify itself over time, but it’s wise to seek medical advice.
Trichotillomania is an impulse control disorder, which means that people with this condition experience the urge to pull out their own hair. This behaviour can be difficult to stop, even if the person knows it’s not healthy.
Trichotillomania is a symptom of anxiety or depression and may also indicate obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Treatment for trichotillomania can include medication, cognitive behavioural therapy and/or hypnosis.
Traction alopecia is a form of hair loss that occurs when the hair is pulled tightly against the scalp for long periods of time. This can happen when people tie their hair in a ponytail or cornrows or if they have to wear tight braids or extensions for an extended period of time.
Traction alopecia can also be caused by wearing a tight-fitting head covering, like a helmet or hat, that pulls the scalp downward onto your forehead and compresses it over time.
Understanding the different types of hair loss and the reasons behind them can certainly go a long way in preventing some of them in the first case. However, if you’re suffering from hair loss which needs a little time to rectify – or that you know may be permanent – then please talk to us.
We can honestly say from personal experience that there are some amazing wig and hair piece options available today that you can’t help but love. And when you’re ready to take the plunge, or even if you’re just a little curious right now, pick up the phone and call us.