Understanding hair loss

The medical term for hair loss is alopecia. There are several types of hair loss with varying symptoms the more common types of hair loss are listed below.

- Male and female- pattern baldness
- alopecia areata
- telogen effluvium
- anagen effluvium
- scaring alopecia

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Futher details about Alopecia

Male and female-pattern baldness:

Male-pattern baldness is THE MOST common type of hair loss and affects around 50% of all men by 50 years old. It most commonly starts to effect men in their late twenties and early thirties and it is believed most men have some form of hair loss by the time they are 30 years old. This condition is hereditary and run in families, it is believed to be linked to having too much of a certain male hormone and over-sensitive hair follicles.

Symptoms usually begin with the beginnings of a receding hairline accompanied then by thinning of both the crown and the temples which can unfortunately leave a horse shoe like shape around the back and sides of the head. Although very unlikely some cases can lead to complete baldness but it very uncommon.

Women can also be affected by female-pattern baldness although symptoms usually include just thinning on the top of the head. Experts are unsure if this condition is hereditary and the causes are more difficult to ascertain. It does however become more noticeable in women that have experienced menopause this could possibly be linked to them producing less hormones.

Alopecia Areata:

This type of hair loss is caused by problems in the immune systems and is more common among people with autoimmune conditions for example diabetes, over-active thyroid and Down's syndrome. Alopecia areata causes bald patches about the size of a large coin, more commonly found on the scalp but can occur anywhere on the body.

Most cases of alopecia areata will see hair regrowth within a few months, at first it will be fine and light but in time regain colour and thickness. This type of hair loss can occur at any time although more commonly affects teenagers and young adults.

Telogen Effluvium:

This type of hair loss can be caused by many different thing such as:
intense emotional stress
intense physical stress e.g. child birth
hormonal changes
long term illness e.g cancer
short-term illness e.g a severe infection
some types of medication for example beta-blockers or anticoagulants
sudden changes in your diet

Telogen Effluvium is the widespread thinning of hair rather than bald patches occurring in specific areas. The individuals hair may feel thinner but it is not likely that the person should loose all their hair and in most cases, hair will begin to grow back within 6 months.

Anagen Effluvium:

Anagen Effluvium is widespread hair loss that can affect any part of your body. The most common causes of this type of hair loss is the chemotherapy cancer treatment. Radiotherapy and immunotherapy have also been known to cause hair loss although not as commonly as chemotherapy.

Hair loss will normally become more noticeable after the first few weeks of cancer treatment although not all chemotherapy drugs cause hair loss and sometimes it is hardly noticeable at all. Anagen effluvium is temporary in most conditions and you will find that hair will continue to grow back only a few months after stopping the cancer treatment.

Scarring Alopecia:

Scarring Alopecia (also known as cicatricial alopecia) occurs in both males and females and accounts for 7% of hair loss cases in the UK and is usually due to the complications of another condition. With this type of hair loss the hair follicle is completely destroyed meaning that the persons hair will unfortunately not grow back.

Facts and figures

Male-pattern baldness affects around 50% of all men by 50 years old.
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