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Alopecia - hair loss and baldness

Alopecia Areata | Androgenic Alopecia

Alopecia Areata

Alopecia areata is a common disease that results in the loss of hair on the scalp and elsewhere on the body. Alopecia areata is sudden patchy hair loss in people with no obvious skin disorder or systemic disease.

There are three types of alopecia areata:

  • alopecia areata
  • alopecia totalis 
  • alopecia universalis

Alopecia areata, the most common variation of the autoimmune disease, presents itself as round, smooth patches of various sizes.

Appearance of Alopecia Areata

The characteristic patch of alopecia areata is usually round or oval, and is completely bald and smooth. "Exclamation-mark" hairs may be seen at the margin of the patch. These are broken, short hairs that taper at the base. Pulling slightly on these hairs causes them to fall out. Some people may experience a slight burning or tingling in the area of hair loss.

DermAtlas: SCALP - alopecia, traumatic
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In all forms of alopecia areata, the hair follicles remain alive and are ready to resume normal hair production whenever they receive the appropriate signal. In all cases, hair regrowth may occur even without treatment and even after many years.

Alopecia areata occurs in males and females of all ages and races; however, onset most often begins in childhood and can be psychologically devastating. Although not life-threatening, alopecia areata is most certainly life-altering, and its sudden onset, recurrent episodes, and unpredictable course have a profound psychological impact on the lives of those disrupted by this disease. But there is hope. In all cases, hair regrowth may occur even without treatment and even after many years.


  • Corticosteroids
  • Sometimes topical anthralin - Some Trade Names
  • Sometimes minoxidil - Some Trade Names
    • OR BOTH

Alopecia areata may spontaneously regress, become chronic, or spread diffusely. Risk factors for chronicity include extensive involvement, onset before adolescence, atopy, and involvement of the peripheral scalp (ophiasis)

If you are experiencing sudden or abnormal hair loss, see a dermatologist early on for correct diagnosis. You will need support and resources to deal with this disorder. Trying to “go it alone” will only make the problem more distressing.

Other Resources


Androgenic Alopecia - Baldness

Androgenetic Alopecia is the most common type of male hair loss and is responsible for 95% of alopecia cases. It also affects women though with differences compared to men (FEMALE PATTERN HAIR LOSS).

It occurs as a result of the long-lasting impact of androgens (male hormones) on people with genetic predisposition to hair loss. The prolonged and continuous effect of the androgens on susceptible hair follicles is the factor that leads to their shrinking and subsequently to hair loss.

Hair thinning is attributed to the following parameters:

  • Hair miniaturization, due to hair follicles΄s degeneration and weakening
  • Gradual loss of hair

Other causes of hair loss

Many things can cause hair loss that are not the same as alopecia areata, including:

  • Stress that prompts growing hairs to rest and shed
    • Illness or surgery
    • Vitamin and nutrient deficiencies
    • Prolonged fever
    • Childbirth
    • Emotional/psychological stress
    • Crash dieting
  • Hormonal problems
    • Overactive or underactive thyroid gland
  • Medications
    • Blood thinners
    • Drugs for gout
    • Chemotherapy for cancer treatment
    • Vitamin A
    • Birth control pills
    • Antidepressants
    • Blood pressure and heart medications
  • Allergic reaction to medications
  • Radiation therapy
  • Infections
    • Fungal infections
    • Syphilis
    • HIV
    • Herpes simplex and zoster
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Systemic and discoid lupus erythematosus
  • Anemia
  • Hair pulled too tightly by:
    • Hair rollers
    • Pigtails
    • Cornrows
  • Hot comb and oil treatments (can inflame the hair follicle and cause scarring)
  • Twisting and pulling hair out due to psychiatric problems
  • Genes
    • Male and female-pattern baldness—usually inherited
    • Congenital disorders—can include problems with the hair shaft

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