It can be very common for people to associate alopecia with baldness or the loss of large clumps of hair, but this is not always the case. The term ‘alopecia’ represents a wide variety of types of hair loss. Let’s explore the types of alopecia in further detail:
Alopecia Areata is perhaps the most well known type of Alopecia. Alopecia Areata is a common autoimmune disease that sees hair loss not only on the scalp, but also elsewhere on the body, such as the eyebrows and eyelashes.
Male Pattern Baldness/Androgenic Alopecia
Male Pattern Baldness (or Androgenic Alopecia) is a very common type of balding that most commonly occurs when a male (or female!) loses hair due to the result of changes in the ‘androgen’ hormone. This typically happens with age, or focusing specifically on women- when they hit the menopause.
Scarring Alopecia, also known as Cicatricial alopecia, is the aftermath of permanent damage to the hair follicle, typically done by a form of inflammation. Once the hair follicle is destroyed, it’s replaced with scar tissue, which causes permanent hair loss. Examples of things that could cause Scarring Alopecia are burns and bacterial infections. Though the word ‘scar’ can sound quite scary, often Scarring Alopecia happens below the skins surface, and as such there isn’t actually a visible scar.
Trichotillomania is an Impulse Control Disorder; characterised by compulsive or repetitive pulling of the hair. This can lead to hair loss and bolding, as well as raised distress levels. The peak age of onset is 9 to 13 and it can be triggered by depression. Trichotillomania can be chronic and very complex to treat.
Alopecia Mucinosa is a form of alopecia that usually results in scaly, hairless patches on the scalp, and elsewhere on the body. This is caused by an abnormal accumulation of mucin in skin that bears hair. For some unknown reason (thought to be related to our immune system) cells in the hair follicle produce an abnormal amount of mucin, causing a variety of skin lesions including hair loss and scarring.
Of course those listed above aren’t the only types of alopecia, but we hope you’ve learnt at least one more type of alopecia than you knew before reading this.