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Alopecia (Hair Loss)

Alopecia refers to hair loss on the body and scalp. Some hair loss is just a part of the natural cycle of hair growth. Normally, we lose about 100 hairs a day, and new ones grow back to replace them. If you start to lose more hair and grow back less to replace it, this results in a thinning effect or bald patches. Hair loss typically happens with aging, and is slightly more common in men than women. Hair loss can also happen as a result of other things, such as after a major surgery or childbirth, stress, hormone problems, the use of certain medications, or due to underlying diseases such as lupus and diabetes. Hair loss may seem like a cosmetic issue, but it can also have negative psychological effects.

Some types of hair loss are:

  • Male pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia) is related to hormones and genetics. It is usually marked by a receding hairline and hair loss at the front and top of the head. It affects about 80% of men by age 70.
  • Female pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia) usually consists of thinning hair on top of the scalp. About 40% of women show signs of hair loss by age 50. It is unclear what role hormones, such as falling estrogen levels at menopause, may play in female pattern baldness, but genetics seem to be involved.
  • Alopecia areata typically results in round bald patches that randomly develop anywhere on the body, and is an autoimmune disease that can affect people of all ages. It usually begins in childhood.
  • Alopecia totalis is when all scalp hair is loss, resulting in complete baldness.
  • Alopecia universalis is when all body hair is loss, and is very uncommon, only occurring in about 0.001% of the general population.
  • Trichotillonmania is when hair loss is caused by compulsive twisting and twirling of the hair, which results in hair breakage and can look patchy.

Hair loss may be temporary or permanent depending on the cause. In cases such as male and female pattern baldness, hair usually does not grow back. Certain drugs may be prescribed to slow hair loss or promote new hair growth. In some cases, hair transplantation may be an option, however, this will not work in cases of alopecia areata because the hair will not grow in that area.

If you would like to know more about alopecia (hair loss), ask your doctor, or click on the links below for more information.

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