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HEALTH CONDITIONS
Alopecia
Overview
Commonly Prescribed Drugs
Treatment and Management
Doctors to Consult
Overview

Alopecia simply means hair loss. On the average, the scalp contains approximately 100,000 to 150,000 hair. The normal hair life cycle is 2-3 years. Ninety percent of the hair on the scalp grows continuously and about 10% of the hair is in a resting phase. Every 2-3 months, the resting hair is shed and new hair starts to grow to replace it. That is why it is normal to shed some hair every day. Normally, you lose around a hundred hair strands every day but others may experience abnormal hair loss. Hair loss can be caused by a variety of reasons like genetics, age, medication, diseases and other conditions.

Types of Hair Loss

  • Involutional
    This type of alopecia is a normal condition and occurs gradually as you age. You will notice that hair becomes thinner and hair volume is reduced. Hair can also tend to become brittle.
  • Androgenic
    This is a genetic type of alopecia which can affect both men and women. Hair loss can occur as early as their teens or in their early 20s. Hair loss is noticeable at the crown and frontal scalp and a receding hairline particularly along the temples. The hair also becomes shorter and thinner creating a U-shaped pattern around the sides of the head.
  • Alopecia areata
    With this type of alopecia, you will notice hair loss which occurs as bald patches around the head. In alopecia areata, the body's immune system attacks the hair follicles causing hair loss.
  • Alopecia totalis
    Alopecia totalis is an advanced form of alopecia which results in total hair loss of the hair on the scalp.
  • Alopecia universalis
    This is the most advanced form of alopecia in which total hair loss occurs not only in the scalp but also include the eyebrows, eye lashes and the rest of the body.
  • Traction
    This type of alopecia results from wearing tight hairstyles like braids, ponytails or cornrows that can lead to high tension and pulling of the hair. Prolonged traction alopecia can stop new hair follicles developing eventually leading to permanent hair loss.
  • Anagen
    Anagen effluvium is caused by exposure to chemicals or toxins such as chemotherapy, radiation and other drugs that may cause hair fall.
  • Telogen effluvium
    With this type of scalp disorder, there is an abnormal thinning or shedding of hair which can be brought upon by stress or illness. Emotional or physiological stress may cause alteration in hair cycle. Stress may be triggered by a variety of reasons and events such as eating disorders, pregnancy, chronic illness, fever, anemia, crash diets and hypothyroidism. But it is only temporary and hair growth recovers over time.
  • Trichotillomania
    This is an uncommon disorder in which a person compulsively pulls out his/her own hair, resulting in noticeable hair loss.
Symptoms
Risk Factors
Commonly Prescribed Drugs
Minoxidil is indicated for persons with excessive hair fall or those experiencing hair loss which may be due to heredity. It is applied to the scalp twice daily to increase hair growth.

Finasteride blocks the effects of male hormones on the hair follicles. It works to slow down the rate of hair loss. It is taken by mouth once daily. Contraindication: Finasteride is only for men.
Treatment and Management
  • Good Hair Care
  • Tight hairstyles and even improper way of washing and drying your hair can contribute to hair loss. As much as possible, air dry your hair. Use a wide-tooth comb when brushing damp hair. Let your hair dry before using hair-straightener and curling iron. Avoid wearing hairstyles which are too tight.

  • Wear wigs or scarves to hide bald spots.
     
  • Reduce your stress levels Stress can greatly contribute to hair loss.
     
  • See a dermatologist. If you have a significant hair loss, consult a physician. A specialist can find the cause and manage your expectations regarding the disorder. They can also discuss possible medications and/or surgical and non-surgical solutions for hair loss.
     
  • Hair Transplantation It is a popular technique which can help restore hair in the scalp and other parts of the body such as eyelashes, eyebrows, beard, and chest.
     
  • Join support groups Alopecia is not a terminal disease but it can have a significant emotional impact on the patient. People with alopecia can join support groups with members who have personal experience with alopecia.
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