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Dealing with hair loss or thinning hair can be a frustrating experience. Hair loss, also known as alopecia, can knock your confidence, or could even be a sign of a more serious health condition. If you suspect that you’re experiencing alopecia, it’s important to understand exactly why your hair is being affected.
Alopecia1 is a broad term that covers a range of conditions characterized by losing more hair than is replenished, resulting in thinning or balding. While the most common affected area is the scalp, alopecia can affect hair anywhere on the body that hair grows, including the beard, eyebrows and body hair.
Alopecia can affect people at any age, though there are certain physical and psychological risk factors associated with certain types of alopecia.
The causes behind the different types of alopecia vary, including physiological, psychological, environmental and genetic factors. Ranging from an autoimmune condition, reactions to medication, hormone changes, physical tension, picking, or simply a natural receding hairline, the reasons for hair loss can vary from person to person.
While not all alopecia is an indicator of underlying health problems, it’s worth trying to pinpoint which type of hair loss you are experiencing. This can help point you in the right direction for treatment, too.
There are different signs of alopecia depending on which type of hair loss you are experiencing. Some common symptoms of alopecia include increased hair shedding, thinning hair, small bald patches on your scalp or excess hair fall at one time. While it’s normal to shed 50-100 hairs each day7, anything more could point to a type of alopecia.
For most people experiencing hair loss, their alopecia will fall into one of these common types. While hair loss is common, it’s important to recognize that each different type of alopecia has its own symptoms and degrees of severity.
It’s common knowledge that hair can thin or recede as we age, and this genetic condition is known as androgenic alopecia. For men, hair usually starts to recede from the crown and hairline3, while women often see thinning along the part. While it can be frustrating, female and male pattern hair loss is generally slow and can be further prevented with regrowth treatment options.
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition that causes hair to fall out in round, usually coin-sized patches. It happens when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks hair follicles, leading to patchy hair loss on the scalp or anywhere that grows hair on the body such as the eyebrows, chest or beard. Alopecia areata can affect all ages, genders and races, though is most common in those under 402 or who have a family history of the condition.
Telogen effluvium is a type of temporary hair loss that is triggered by excessive stress or trauma. After a trigger such as childbirth, bereavement or an acute illness, more hair follicles than usual can shift to the shedding phase (telogen)4 of the hair growth cycle. This causes the hair to thin, and it’s often the most noticeable two to three months after the initial stressor. The hair usually starts to grow back within six months, which can be supported by healthy lifestyle factors such as diet, sleep and stress management.
Traction alopecia is a form of hair loss caused by excessive tension at the root of the hair. Tension alopecia is often caused by tight hairstyles such as braids or slicked back ponytails. While the hair usually grows back after being pulled out, continued traction or tension can lead to damaged hair follicles and permanent hair loss. Traction alopecia can be avoided by wearing slightly looser hairstyles and changing up how your hair is styled.
Alopecia barbae is a specific type of hair loss that affects the beard. It’s an autoimmune condition and usually causes the beard to fall out in small, circular patches, though sometimes the whole beard area can be affected. Just as with alopecia areata, there is no cure or known cause.
As well as these common types of alopecia, there are a range of other hair loss causes. These include:
A psychological condition that manifests in compulsive pulling of the hair, eyebrows or eyelashes.
A common cause of alopecia in females, postpartum alopecia is a type of hair loss caused by the drop in estrogen after giving birth.
An advanced form of alopecia areata that causes hair loss of the entire scalp or body, respectively.
A type of hair loss triggered by chemotherapy treatment that impacts hair in the active growth stage.
Scarring hair loss is a type of hair loss that is triggered by the destruction of hair follicles after inflammation or trauma such as infection, injury or extreme autoimmune conditions.
Alopecia areata is a medical condition, so it’s always worth seeking treatment advice from a dermatologist. Adjacent to specialist care, here are some other home tricks or remedies for alopecia areata.
As your hair is already compromised, make sure to protect yourself from further damage. Wear a soft, protective hat to guard against further hair trauma from the elements, and make sure to wear sunscreen to protect against scalp trauma caused by the sun. Because stress can cause alopecia, it’s important to learn stress management techniques like yoga or meditation. And to boost your confidence, try a new hairstyle or care routine for thinning hair that can make your hair look and feel fuller.
Now you know what alopecia is and what causes it and the different types of alopecia, it’s time to take control of your hair loss. If you suspect that you’re experiencing alopecia, we recommend seeking advice from a doctor or trichologist to confirm your alopecia diagnosis, determine which type you have and discuss the appropriate ways to treat your alopecia.
To support remaining hair and stimulate regrowth, ROGAINE® is proven to help combat thinning or balding hair. Its active ingredient Minoxidil is the only topical ingredient approved by the FDA to help regrow hair, and is recommended by dermatologists to help both men and women regrow hair lost by alopecia.
Discover the range of targeted ROGAINE® treatments for both men and women to help regrow thicker, fuller hair after hair loss.
While alopecia areata is considered an autoimmune disease5, not every type of alopecia is caused by an autoimmune response. More common types of hair loss, such as male and female pattern hair loss and traction alopecia, are influenced by genetic, hormonal and lifestyle factors.
There is no cure for alopecia areata5 or androgenic alopecia3, however balding or thinning can be treated and the hair can grow back.
Some types of alopecia are curable, though, such as telogen effluvium and anagen effluvium1, as normal hair growth should resume after the body recovers from stressors.
Even if hair loss is due to an incurable type of alopecia, it doesn’t mean that the hair loss is permanent. There are treatments available to regrow thinning or balding hair.
Because alopecia areata is considered an autoimmune condition, there are some lifestyle factors that may affect your condition. To reduce the effects of alopecia areata6, you should avoid sun exposure to the hair and scalp, stick to loose hairstyles, manage stress and avoid inflammatory foods. Note that not everyone will have the same triggers for alopecia areata, so finding what works for you may take some trial and error.