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What is Alopecia?

Hair loss or baldness (technically known as alopecia) is a loss of hair from the head or body. Baldness can refer to general hair loss or male pattern baldness specifically. 

Heredity, hormones, and age all play a part in this condition.

The scientific name is androgenic alopecia. Alopecia means –without hair-. The prefix “andro” is related to androgens: hormones that alter the life cycle of your hair, shortening or thinning the fiber until it disappears. “genic” comes from genetic, meaning it comes or is related to a hereditary component. Androgenic alopecia is then, the scientific name for baldness.

Alopecia is a condition that is usually linked with stress and affects some males that might have or not, hereditary elements for baldness. This condition renders in some cases low self-esteem, shyness and insecurity. The usual pattern presents itself in the frontal or top part of the head, as in the usual receding hairline. This is the most common type of balding in men; and also, some women.

Male pattern hair loss

Hair loss process Alopecia DHT

More than 95% of hair thinning in men is male pattern hair loss (also known as androgenic alopecia). Male pattern hair loss is characterized by hair receding from the lateral sides of the forehead (known as a “receding hairline”) and/or a thinning crown (balding to the area known as the ‘vertex’’). Both become more pronounced until they eventually meet, leaving a horseshoe-shaped ring of hair around the back of the head.
The incidence of pattern baldness varies from population to population and is based on genetic background. Environmental factors do not seem to affect this type of baldness greatly. One large scale study in Maryborough, Victoria, Australia showed the prevalence of mid-frontal baldness increases with age and affects 73.5 percent of men and 57 percent of women aged 80 and over. A rough rule of thumb is that the incidence of baldness in males corresponds to chronological age. For example, according to Medem Medical Library’s website, male pattern baldness (MPB) affects roughly 40 million men in the United States. Approximately 25 percent of men begin balding by age 30; two-thirds begin balding by age 60.
There is a 4 in 7 chance of receiving the baldness gene. Onset of hair loss sometimes begins as early as the end of puberty, and is mostly genetically determined. It was previously believed that baldness was inherited from the maternal grandfather. While there is some basis for this belief, both parents contribute to their offspring’s likelihood of hair loss.

hair loss process Alopecia

hair loss process Alopecia

The trigger for this type of baldness is DHT (or dihydrotestosterone), a body- and facial-hair growth promoter that can adversely affect the prostate as well as the hair located on the head.] The mechanism by which DHT accomplishes this is not yet fully understood. In genetically prone scalps (i.e., those experiencing male or female pattern baldness), DHT initiates a process of follicular miniaturization, in which the hair follicle begins to deteriorate. As a consequence, the hair’s growth phase is shortened, and young, hair is prevented from growing and maturing into the deeply rooted hair that makes up 90 percent of the hair on the head. In time, hair becomes thinner, and its overall volume is reduced so that it resembles fragile hair or “peach fuzz” until, finally, the follicle goes dormant and ceases producing hair completely.

Female pattern hair loss

Androgenic Alopecia is not the leading cause of hair loss in women, as many struggle with baldness as a result of menopause, pregnancy, hormonal disorders, and even medical treatments. But it is still medical condition which women do face and with the proper attention and treatment can be remedied. Female-pattern hair loss occurs at the frontal and parietal areas of the head.

Hair loss

Fact or Myth?

24 Nov 2013
Hair loss in Men

Hair loss in Men

24 Nov 2013
hair loss women

Hair loss in Women

24 Nov 2013

The Norwood scale

The Norwood scale is a classification system that helps diagnose alopecia, measuring the baldness degree of the patient. For this, a graphic pattern is used to explain the progressiveness of the condition.

Apolecia Norwood scale

Level 1: Minimum hair loss.
Level 2: Small recession of the hairline, the density slowly fades.
Level 3: The recession is accentuated, the pattern starts showing in the crown.
Level 4: The baldness is accentuated with little or no hair on the top part of the head.
Level 5: The line dividing the front and crown is diminished.
Level 6: The front and the crown merge, leaving few hair spots in between.
Level 7: This is the highest degree of baldness, where there is only a strip of hair stretching from ear to ear.

Hair Loss can have many Causes:

The problem starts developing after the teen years. Baldness affects 1 in every 3 men, and 30% of males under the age of 30. In women, a low percentage affects 20 to 30 year olds, but increases up to 30% to those around 30 to 60 years of age. In females the baldness pattern is usually a shortage of hair around the front area of the scalp.

The principal cause of alopecia in women is menopause, as the hormone levels drop. Besides those with polycystic ovary syndrome and other disorders, such as higher levels of male hormones, could lead to excessive facial hair and baldness in some women.

In any given moment not only the area of the scalp could be affected by this condition, but also any other zone with hair follicles. In advanced cases the patient might lose all the hair, in the head as well as in the body.

Alopecia areata

Alopecia areata

Trichotillomania is the compulsive urge to pull out one’s own hair leading to noticeable hair loss, distress, and social or functional impairment. Due to the constant extraction of the hair roots, permanent hair loss can occur. The peak age of onset is 9 to 13 and can continue on to adulthood. It may be triggered by depression or stress.
Radiotherapy or chemotherapy where major hair loss occurs due to the vast amounts of agents that destroy the hair follicles and cells.
Nutritional deficiencies such as iron. Studies have shown that poor nutrition, limited food intake, and deficiencies in certain nutrients can cause thinning. Biotin, protein, zinc and poor human iron metabolism deficiencies have been known to cause hair thinning. A diet high in animal fats (often found in fast food) is also thought to have an effect on hair loss.

Alopecia areata is a condition in which hair is lost from some or all areas of the body, the most common being the scalp. Because it causes bald spots on the scalp, especially in the first stages, it is sometimes called spot baldness. In 1–2% of cases, the condition can spread to the entire scalp which is called alopecia totalis or to the entire body which is known as alopecia universalis. The condition is thought to be a systemic autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks its own hair follicles and suppresses or stops hair growth.
• Maladies such as lupus erythematosus and diabetes. Sometimes due to the disease other times due to the drugs and medications taken which can cause temporary or permanent hair loss. Any that affect the body’s hormone balance can have a pronounced effect.
Hypothyroidism (an under-active thyroid) and the side effects of its related medications can cause hair loss, typically frontal, which is particularly associated with thinning of the outer third of the eyebrows (also seen with syphilis). Hypothyroidism can also cause hair loss, which is parietal rather than frontal
Stress has been shown to restrict the blood supply to capillaries inhibiting oxygen and nutrient uptake of hair follicles and inhibiting hair growth, in an effect similar to that from having poor circulation.
Traction alopecia is most commonly found in people with ponytails, tight braids or any hairstyle that pulls on the hair with excessive force. In addition, rigorous brushing and heat styling, rough scalp massage can damage the cuticle, the hard outer casing of the hair. This causes individual strands to become weak and break off, reducing overall hair volume.
Telogen effluvium is a scalp disorder characterized by the thinning or shedding of hair. Traumas such as childbirth, major surgery, poisoning, and severe stress may cause this disorder.
Congenital triangular alopecia – It is a triangular, or oval in some cases, shaped patch of hair loss in the temple area of the scalp that occurs mostly in young children. The affected area mainly contains vellus hair follicles or no hair follicles at all, but it does not expand. Its causes are unknown, and although it is a permanent condition, it does not have any other effect on the affected individuals