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What is Alopecia?

Alopecia is the medical term for hair loss. It is characterized by rapid and sudden hair loss from the scalp and other body regions, resulting in visible hairless patches. Alopecia can be caused by many things and the treatment for it is also varied, and depending on what is causing it.

Symptoms of Alopecia

  • Clumps of hair on pillow after you wake up
  • Lots of hair in the shower drain after a single washing
  • Abundant hair stuck to brush after brushing
  • Hair falling out when you pass your hands through it
  • Patches of hairless scalp
  • Types and Causes of Alopecia

    Alopecia Areata: An autoimmune condition where the hair follicle itself is attacked leaving patches of hairless skin that regrow and may shed again.

    Androgenic Alopecia:  This is genetic condition responsible for male pattern baldness, but can also occur in women. It results from sensitivity at the hair follicle to a hormone that causes it to thin out.

    Chemicals: Harsh chemicals such as strengtheners and bleaches used to treat hair may cause it to fall out.

    Deficiencies: Deficiencies of certain nutrients from the diet such as protein, iron, zinc, and biotin will inhibit the production of hair.

    Fungal infections: Dermatophyte and tinea capitis (ringworm) infect the scalp and are treated with antifungal creams.

    Hormonal imbalances: Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism as well as other hormonal imbalances can lead to alopecia.

    Hypervitaminosis A: Too much vitamin A can cause alopecia.

    Lupus erythematosus: An autoimmune disease in which the scalp may be attacked leading to hair loss.

    Medication: Steroids or chemotherapy drugs are examples of drugs that can cause alopecia.

    Secondary syphilis: Infection by the bacteria may spread to the skin and scalp causing hair loss in that region.

    Traumatic Alopecia: Caused by physical trauma to the follicles such as constant plucking of the hair and injuries to the head.

    Radiation:  Such as that used in cancer treatment can make hair fall out by destroying the hair follicles.

    Seborrheic Alopecia: Caused by dermatitis, which can be treated using medication.

    Stress: Certain periods of high stress can lead to temporary hair loss.

    Telogen: Dysfunction of your hair’s natural period of shedding.

    Treatment for Alopecia

    Because of the wide array of types and causes of alopecia, it is best to consult a doctor for help to identify what it is that is causing your hair loss and how to treat it. Treatment can take the form of creams or oral medications, as well as changing your diet and habits. Some forms of alopecia can not be cured, however.

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