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What Are the Different Types of Alopecia?

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  • Written By: Kaiser Castro
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 31 August 2016
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Hair loss can occur on localized areas or affect the entire body. There are many types of hair loss disorders, some being caused by biological factors, genetic mutations, hormones, or friction on the hair follicles. Alopecia causes hair loss in different ways on the body and has several different forms, including alopecia areata, alopecia universalis, male pattern baldness, and traction alopecia.

Alopecia areata is a type of hair loss that is caused by the body’s immune system mistaking hair follicles for an invading pathogen. This will cause patches of hair to fall out, leaving behind a smooth surface with very little stubble. There is no cure for this disorder, as this type of hair loss tends to be transient, with the hair sometimes growing back within a year. Individuals with a family history of hair loss have an increased risk of developing alopecia areata.

Total hair loss, or alopecia universalis, is the complete absence of hair on the head and body. Individuals who are affected by this type of disorder tend to have patches of skin absent of hair follicles, lending it to be one of the more chronic forms of hair loss. The disorder is caused by genetic mutation, with doctors not having a direct cure. There is always a possibility of the hair growing back in, but most incidents tend to be permanent in nature.

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Male pattern baldness is a type of alopecia noted by a receding hair line, usually coupled with aggressive hair thinning. Baldness occurs when the hair follicle shrinks, resulting in thin hair and shorter growing phases. Areas that are typically affected are the temple and crown area, with temple areas gradually receding into an “M” shape. The cause for male pattern baldness has been noted to result from abnormal hormone levels.

Traction alopecia is a type of hair loss caused by the constant friction or pulling of the hair follicles. Many individuals who habitually put their hair in tight buns, braids, or pigtails are at risk of developing this type of hair loss. Traction alopecia tends to be a prolific occurrence in African-American communities due to hair weaves and extensions that can pull on the hair follicles. Hair weaves are required to be removed after a certain amount of time, allowing the wearer to care for his or her own hair. The hair will then have to be braided once again and have a new hair piece installed, which can cause stress on hair follicles that are already at risk of falling out.

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anon994218
Post 2

I went to the hairdressers this week and she noticed some bald patches on my scalp. Could this be alopecia? What can I do to get treatment? Should I use shampoos or vitamins?

rachelsjulia
Post 1

Great article here!

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