Alopecia refers to hair loss. Alopecia can cause hair loss on any part of the body. Any one can have alopecia; men, women or children. If a person suffers from alopecia, it is psychologically disturbing condition. Our hairs are always in cyclic phases; there are three phases through which hairs undergo. First is the anagen; hairs grow for 2-6 years and are the growing phase. Then it is catagen which is the transitional phase lasting for 1-2 weeks. Telogen is the third and resting phase which lasts for 3-4 months.
Normally after resting phase, those hairs shed from the head.
Alopecia is of various types depending upon the amount of hair lost and the cause of hair loss.
The condition of scalp hairs, more found in old age people, is known as diffuse alopecia. It can affect men and women alike.
Male pattern baldness or androgenic alopecia can be found in young as well as old people but never in children. Women too can get it but it is more of men’s problem. This condition is hereditary; if any person in your family has this kind of baldness, you too can get it. It is linked with excess of male hormones around the hair follicles which hinder the growth of hair. Women can suffer from it after menopause when female hormones get reduced.
Alopecia Areata is condition of hair loss where few bald patches appear on the scalp but hairs grown on their own in most of the cases without any treatment. This type of hair loss is also attributed to heredity. Some one may have had it in your family and it often strikes in childhood.
There is no specific cause of alopecia Areata but according to current researches, it seems that this hair loss is due to body’s own defense system attacks its healthy cells by mistake. This results in fall of hair and new growth is suppressed for few months. It is an autoimmune disease and people who have it may have other autoimmune disease like pernicious anemia or thyroidism. It is a rare condition, but alopecia Areata can progress into alopecia totalis (complete baldness of scalp) or alopecia universalis (total loss of body hair).
Often deep bacterial or fungal infections of the scalp cause scarring on the scalp and cause scarring alopecia and there will not be any growth of hair on that area. It leaves permanent bald patches.
There are numerous factors which can cause alopecia of different kinds. Allergies, toxins, irritants, infections, injuries or burns may be some cause. There are certain medications and therapies such as chemotherapy, radiation, chronic kidney failure can cause loss of hair. Other conditions in which person may have hair loss are pregnancy, fever, anemia or vitamin A overdose.
The most apparent symptom for androgenic alopecia is thinning of hair. It starts at the temples and crown in men. Men can loose hair from high forehead and can go completely bald. But women do not loose all their hairs. Alopecia areata is identified by the bald patches on the scalp. Fingernails may be slightly pitted. There is regrowth of hair on bald patches and then again fall; it comes and goes in cycles.
First of all to prevent any kind of hair loss you should eat a well balanced diet. Hair loss or alopecia can be prevented or treated after determining the cause of hair loss. But sometimes it is not possible to prevent hair loss like in case of alopecia Areata. In case of alopecia Areata, hair grow back after some time but if it takes longer to grow back, one can take the help of medicines to speed up the growth of hairs on the bald patch. Usually topical steroids are prescribed for affected area. Localized corticosteroid injections are also applied on the scalp. Oral steroids are reserved for very severe cases.
For the people who are suffering from alopecia totalis or universalis, it is better to adapt to the situation and find artificial means of covering head or eyebrows etc rather than finding a cure.
There is a medicine called Minoxidil which is rubbed on the affected area twice daily for treating diffuse and androgenic alopecia. But it does not show any result for the people who are completely bald. Finasteride is the latest medicines used male pattern baldness.
Another option is surgery which means transplanting own hairs to the bald patches. But it is an expensive option which last forever.
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