HAIR LOSS - ALOPECIA
Alopecia, or baldness, is a term which refers to partial or complete loss of hair from an area. Hair loss may be temporary or permanent depending on the cause and amount of damage to the follicle.
Male and female pattern hair loss
Androgenetic alopecia is the medical term for male and female pattern hair loss, where there is gradual loss of the hair from the crown, vertex and front of the scalp. Androgenetic alopecia is caused by androgen hormones binding to the hair follicles leading to miniaturisation of the hair and a shortened growth phase.
Age, genetics and hormones all play a role in whether you will develop pattern loss. Over 90% of men by the age of 40 and 40% of women by the age of 50 experience pattern hair loss to some degree. There are many treatments that are marketed for androgenetic alopecia with varying effectiveness. Book a consultation with us, or speak to your GP for information and advice on the treatment options available to you.
Alopecia areata is one of the most common and recognisable causes of patchy hair loss, with an estimated 2% of the population experiencing areata at some point in their lives. An areata patch tends to appear very quickly, often overnight. The patch then expands slowly, and other patches may also appear. In 5% of cases, alopecia areata will progress to affecting the whole of the scalp, and potentially the entire body.
With alopecia areata, progression is difficult to predict, with spontaneous regrowth seen in 50% of cases where areata has been present for less than 1 year. Nevertheless, it is important to seek treatment quickly if you suspect that you have developed an areata patch.
SCARRING HAIR LOSS
Scarring or cicatricial alopecia is permanent hair loss from the destruction of the follicle. The skin may appear shiny and smooth, and several scarring conditions are accompanied with itching and soreness of the scalp. Scarring can be caused by trauma to the scalp, as well as conditions such as discoid lupus erythematosus and lichen planopilaris.
TRACTION ALOPECIA AND TRICHOTILLOSIS
Trauma to the hair can also cause patchy hair loss. This may be due to traction alopecia, typically caused by tight hairstyles such as ponytails and braids. Trichotillosis (formely known as trichotillomania) is the compulsion to pull one's hair, and may also affect other body hair such as eyelashes and eyebrows. Both types of traumatic hair loss may lead to scarring in longstanding cases.
HAIR THINNING, GROWTH AND BREAKAGE
HAIR THINNING AND SHEDDING
Diffuse hair loss is often noticed when there is more hair lost than usual when combing or washing your hair. You may also notice that you have an increased amount of fine flyaway hairs on the top of your head. This general hair loss is termed telogen effluvium, and can be triggered by many factors, including childbirth, nutritional deficiencies, weight loss, and severe stress.
HAIR BREAKAGE AND TEXTURE
Issues with fragile and rough textured hair can be caused by genetics, hair care practices, or a combination of the two. For people with longer hair an amount of weathering and breakage is unavoidable. Damp hair in particular is susceptible to breakage, so extra care must be taken when drying or combing after washing.
UNWANTED HAIR GROWTH
Excess hair growth in women on the face, chest, tummy and back is symptomatic of an excess in androgen hormones. Conditions which can cause this include PCOS and thyroid problems. For transgender patients undergoing hormone therapy, these hormones can cause unwanted changes in hair growth and distribution.