Alopecia: The lowdownAlopecia is a term used to refer to a range of hair loss conditions. There are numerous types of alopecia, with some being more severe than others. Therefore, it’s important to establish which type you suffer with before you attempt to treat it.

Here we’ll look at why it occurs and the different types you should be aware of.

Understanding the different types of alopecia

There are four main types of alopecia and they include:

  • Alopecia Areata
  • Anagen Effluvium
  • Scarring Alopecia
  • Telogen Effluvium

The rarest, yet most commonly associated with the term “alopecia” is alopecia areata. This can cause the sufferer to completely lose their hair, not just on the scalp but all over the body. However, most frequently it actually causes small bald patches. Its exact cause isn’t known, but for some reason the immune system begins attacking the healthy cells of the body, including the hair follicles. It is typically a temporary condition, but can be permanent in some cases.

Anagen effluvium is a widespread, fairly rapid type of hair loss, which again is usually temporary. It is most often caused by cancer chemotherapy treatment, though not everybody undergoing chemotherapy will automatically experience it.

Scarring alopecia is one of the lesser known types and it only occurs after the hair follicles have become damaged. It is usually triggered by an underlying skin condition and will cause permanent hair loss if left untreated.
The most common form of alopecia is Telogen effluvium. This involves an overall thinning, rather than bald spots. It is typically triggered by hormonal changes, illness, medications, poor diet or high levels of stress.

Other types of hair loss

The above are the different types of alopecia, but it’s important to keep in mind that there are other types of hair loss.
Male pattern baldness (also known as androgenetic alopecia) is a common genetic form of hair loss. It can affect men as early as in their early 20’s, though it’s more common in men over 50. It’s hereditary so there isn’t much that can be done to prevent the condition, but there are numerous treatments available.

Trichotillomania is a less common form of hair loss, and it causes sufferers to literally pull out their hair. This leaves small bald patches behind. Unlike other forms of hair loss, Trichotillomania is typically treated via psychotherapy.
So, as you can see, there are many different types of hair loss. This makes it extremely important to have the cause of your hair loss diagnosed before a proper treatment can be found.

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By Ian Watson

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