Approximately 35 million men and 21 million women suffer from alopecia, or hair loss, in the United States. There are several different types of hair loss, so what causes thinning hair for one person may be completely different than what causes it for another. By understanding the types of hair loss, individuals can have a better understanding of what they might be suffering from.
Androgenic Alopecia, or female pattern hair loss, is a condition similar to that of male pattern baldness. However, the hair is typically lost around the crown or as an overall thinning. Many times, it doesn’t affect the hairline the way male pattern baldness does. By the age of 80, approximately 57% of women will have some degree of androgenic alopecia. Treatments includeRogaine, Provillus, Propecia, and similar prescription medications, or more extreme measures like hair follicle transplants. Often times, women experience this condition with some type of hormone change.
Telogen Effluvium is the second most common type of hair loss that dermatologists encounter. Rather than being caused by genetics, this hair loss condition is typically caused by some type of stress or nutritional deficiency. With this condition, the hairs are in a type of shock that causes them to shed, making the hair thinner overall. It can be patchy in places, with thinning hairs next to patches of thick, full hair. Some types of stress might include crash diets that restrict necessary vitamins, emotional stress, and stress induced by certain medications.
Trichotillomania, or “trich”, is a psychological compulsion for individuals to pull out the hairs present on their scalp. This condition affects 1 in 50 people, with an overwhelming majority of those people (90%) being women. Sufferers experience an urge to pull out the hairs on their scalp, causing hair loss, thinning hair and sometimes, complete bald spots. Experts think that this condition is related to an imbalance of chemicals in the brain, and there are varying degrees. For instance, some individuals can control it through willpower while for others, the urge is simply too strong.
Alopecia Areata is a condition that is still a very large mystery, but it can affect men, women and children of any age. The hair affected can be on the scalp or other areas of the body and the condition can result in total hair loss. While there is still so much unknown about this condition, experts believe genetics can play a role, as those with close family members affected are at a higher risk. With this condition, the body’s immune system attacks the hair follicles, resulting in hair shedding, leading experts to believe it is an autoimmune condition.
Hair loss of any type can be frustrating and embarrassing, especially with society’s notions about hair and beauty. However, there are treatment options for most types of alopecia. It’s essential that those experiencing thinning hair speak with their doctor and dermatologist to determine what kind of hair loss it is, and to develop a treatment plan that will address it properly, also prevention steps in future.