UNDERSTANDING HAIR LOSS
Hair loss (also called Alopecia) is both an aesthetic and a psychological concern, particularly for women. With more than 55% of women going through life with significant hair loss, it is still a heavy burden today and, for many people, it can lead to depression, low self-esteem and social stigmatization.
While there are quite a number of treatment options available today, not all options have the same effect and not all are available for both men and women. Below you will find more information about the differences in treatment, the diagnosis itself and the types of Alopecia.
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THERE ARE DIFFERENCES IN TREATMENT FOR WOMEN AND MEN
It is important for you to know that women’s hair becomes thinner and thinner with age, and that there are distinct differences between female and male hair loss.
Female pattern hair loss (FPHL) is a distinctive form of hair loss that occurs in women with androgenetic alopecia. The condition affects many women and manifests itself through hair thinning and or shedding across the scalp, which reduces hair volume.
FPHL presents quite differently from the more easily recognizable male pattern baldness, which usually begins with a receding frontal hairline that progresses to a bald patch on top of the head. It is very uncommon for women to suffer hair loss in this way, although excessive androgen production can lead to hair loss that mimics this pattern.
BEING DIAGNOSED WITH HAIR LOSS (ALOPECIA)
Making a diagnosis of alopecia is not always that simple. There are a number of factors that can cause or worsen the condition including your lifestyle, a medical condition or a genetic predisposition. That is why before making a diagnosis, your physician will conduct a physical examination and ask about your medical and/or family history. Additional tests might then be performed to establish the cause of your hair loss. These could include one or more blood tests, biopsy, pull test, standardised global photography, trichogram, dermatoscopy or trichoscopy.
Based on the examination and test, the physician will be able to make the diagnosis and provide you with the best treatment options for your specific condition.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Hair thinning is the most common form of hair loss and is experience by both sexes. This type of hair loss in men is distinguished by gradual thinning that forms the letter ‘M’ whereas in women the hair loss tends to occur where they part their hair.
These smooth, small round bald spots mainly occur in the scalp and less regularly in beards and eyebrows. These spots maybe also become itchy and sore prior to the hair falling out.
People who have suffered an emotional or traumatic shot can also experience sudden hair loss. This can range from large clumps falling out while brushing or washing and usually results in overall thinning rather than being confined to one area.
WHY DO WE LOSE OUR HAIR?
People are usually surprised to learn that most of us lose as many as a hundred hairs a day, but because this occurs right across the scalp it is rarely noticeable and is replaced by new growth. However, if that growth cycle stops or hair follicles are destroyed, hair loss becomes more pronounced.
While the causes of alopecia are not completely understood, we do know that it can be triggered by the following factors:
WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF ALOPECIA?
is the most common form of hair loss for both genders, although it manifests itself differently in both genders. In men, it is known as common baldness and is distinguished by hair loss in an “M” shape beginning above the temples. This often progresses to partial or complete baldness. For women, this form of alopecia commonly results in thinning of the hair mass over time, but rarely changes the hairline or leads to complete baldness.
hair loss is commonly seen as an autoimmune disease. The immune system is the body’s natural defence system that fights foreign microbes and viruses that invade and threaten the body. Autoimmune diseases occur when the immune system fails to recognise the body’s own cells and tissues and attacks them. In the case of alopecia areata, the immune system damages the hair follicles. This results in round patches of hair loss, mostly on the scalp, but it can occur elsewhere on the body. There are two forms of alopecia areata: totalis, in which all scalp hair is lost and universalis, which causes the loss of all hair on the body, as well as the scalp.
results from either prolonged or repetitive pulling force to the hair and is caused by such things as tight plaits, usually affecting frontal and temporal scalp areas.
is caused by permanent damage to the hair follicles. Some skin conditions like lichen planus, discoid lupus, scleroderma, folliculitis decalvans and frontal fibrosing alopecia are causative factors that lead to scarring alopecia.
These disorders commonly cause skin changes such as scars, rashes and rough patches over skin that lead to the loss of hair follicles and hair in particular areas.
is most commonly caused by treatments like cancer chemotherapy, immunotherapy and radiotherapy. All of these affect rapidly growing cells in the body, not just fast-growing cancer cells. Hair follicle cells fall into this category and are affected by anti-cancer drugs and radiation therapy. These treatments can cause severe hair loss on the scalp, body and eyebrows. At the end of treatment hair usually grows back.
is a temporary form of hair loss due to various transient changes. One of the common causes is hormonal changes associated with pregnancy. Emotional stress, short-term illness, surgery, severe infections, chronic illness like liver disease, cancer etc., can also causes of this type of hair loss.