Hair Loss Disorders
Written by Dr. Griffin
Hair loss can result from a number of different factors and can develop in people of nearly all ages. It is important for the patient and the doctor to be fully aware of the root cause of the hair loss, so that, together, they can devise a plan to best treat the specific problem. Below is a list of the most prevalent hair loss disorders, each of which Dr. Griffin has extensive experience in treating.
The Most Common Hair Loss Disorders
Male Pattern Baldness
Considerably the most common hair loss disorder, male pattern baldness is present in roughly half the male population. The condition is almost always genetic, but can also develop from hormonal imbalances. Though male pattern baldness can manifest at any age after puberty, it is most often recognized in men aged 50 and up. The condition is marked by dramatic hair loss that usually begins at front of the head, creating the illusion of a receding hairline. Over time, the baldness can extend over the entire top of the scalp, lined by unaffected hair on either side and in the back of the scalp.
Female Pattern Baldness
While it is natural for women to lose about 100 hairs per day, women with the condition experience more dramatic thinning and loss of hair. Like Male pattern Alopecia, Female pattern baldness is genetic and can be triggered by pregnancy, certain medications, and hormonal changes and is generally most visible at the front and top of the head, often starting as a widening of the part line. Like male pattern baldness, female pattern baldness is also relatively common- studies show that more than 50% of women experience its effects to some degree. However, one of the main differences between the two lies in the social reaction to the respective conditions; in men, it is often accepted and even expected for balding to occur, but in women, the condition can affect their self-image. Women do not generally go completely bald but may thin considerably.
Real Patient Before & After Photos
Traction alopecia results from continual, tight pulling of the hair as may be caused by braids and ponytails in women. The condition is common among African Americans who often weave their hair into tightly-bound braids. If hair is pulled for an extended period of time, this can lead to extreme thinning out of the hair, or complete baldness in the front and sides of the head. Traction alopecia can create the look of a receding hairline when the strain on the hair follicles becomes excessive. Because there is damage to the root of the hair, this form of hair loss is generally permanent.
Other Hair Loss Disorders
Cicatricial (Scarring) Alopecias
This category of hair loss, also referred to as scarring alopecia, can result in permanent baldness which may be focal or diffuse. In patients who suffer from the condition, the follicles of the hair are directly targeted and destroyed. Cicatricial alopecia can occur both gradually and suddenly, as the damage to the hair follicles progresses. Cicatricial alopecias are caused by diseases such as Lupus or by various types of hair treatments such as straightening. This type of hair loss is permanent and therefore it is important to correctly diagnose and treat the underlying cause. A scalp biopsy is usually required to make the diagnosis. It is important to consult a medical professional to more accurately determine whether the form of cicatricial alopecia is primary or secondary, so as to better treat the hair loss.
Trichotillomania, more commonly known as hair pulling, can lead to focal areas of hair loss which if continued may become permanent. The habit may be mild or severe and lead to varying amounts of hair loss. Treating this condition takes patience and devotion, as reversing bad habits can be difficult. Though trichotillomania is usually not considered to a serious medical condition, it can in some cases be associated with underlying psychological problems.
Real Patient Before & After Photos
This condition is caused by a fungus, as contracted from either the patient’s environment or by the people he or she may interact with. It is most prominently seen in younger patients who have yet to reach puberty or in older patients over the age of 60. Depending on the severity of the condition, tinea capitis can cause concentrated or wide-spread hair loss which may be temporary or permanent.
Alopecia areata is an inflammatory form of hair loss in which the follicle is attacked by white blood cells but not permanently damaged. The condition is marked by sporadic loss of hair on the scalp or from around the body that is concentrated in a certain region or in some cases diffuse. The ensuing baldness is usually the size of a coin but may be large and irregular. Alopecia totalis is the complete loss of scalp hair and alopecia universalis is the complete loss of both scalp and body hair. Though there is no scientific explanation for what exactly triggers alopecia areata, the lost hair generally grows back after a few months. This condition is diagnosed by scalp biopsy and is treatable in most cases. The more widespread the problem, the less responsive to treatment. The problem may recur, sometimes years later.
When damage to the anagen, or growth portion of the hair’s natural cycle, occurs, moderate to severe hair loss can ensue. Chemotherapy, as well as radiation therapies, are known to cause anagen effluvium because they stop cell division in the hair bulb. The loss of hair that occurs during anagen effluvium is relatively sudden as the hair starts to thin as a result of breakage at the hair shafts near the scalp. The condition, which can be present in patients of any age, causes balding that affects the entire scalp, and grows back once the inciting cause is finished.
Telogen refers to the resting phase of the hair cycle, and telogen effluvium results from more hairs entering the resting phase than the normal 15% or so of scalp hair. Telogen effluvium as a form of hair loss most often results from stress, psychological trauma, severe illness or relatively high fever. It can occur after childbirth, excessive consumption of Vitamin A, thyroid disease, and other such conditions. It is temporary and resolves when the inciting cause is resolved. The hair then regrows and begins to cycle normally again. Some people have chronic telogen effluvium. Treatment involves correct diagnosis and reassurance that this form of hair loss is not permanent.