Different Types of Alopecia Explained

The terms alopecia and hair loss are often used interchangeably because they both refer to hair loss. Hair loss is a term used by the general public to refer to any form of alopecia, which is the medical term used by doctors.

Medical doctors that specialize in the treatment of hair loss are called trichologists, and dermatologists are also experts in this field. Hair loss is used generically as a phrase describing loss of hair by any cause, and there are far more types of hair loss than you probably ever imagined.

The most common type of hair loss is male pattern baldness (also referred to as MPB). The medical term for this is alopecia androgenetica, or sometimes just androgenetic alopecia. Both of these medical terms refer to the common condition of male pattern baldness.

Androgen refers to the hormone “allergy” that causes male pattern baldness, while genetica refers to hair loss as a genetically inherited condition. You would expect that alopecia angrogenetica would only effect men because of the testosterone effect, but it can also affect women in rare cases.

The different types of alopecia

After alopecia androgenetica, the next most common types are alopecia areata and alopecia universalis (also called alopecia totalis).

Alopecia areata refers to the loss of patches of hair on the head or elsewhere on the body. This type of hair loss can affect men, women or children of any ethnic background, and can appear very suddenly without warning.

There are numerous causes for alopecia areata: extreme stress, prolonged illness, prolonged high fevers, extreme reactions to medication and other forms of viral attack can bring it on. The hair loss seen during a bout of alopecia areata is not always permanent, and the hair grows back for some people.

Two of the most popular treatments for alopecia areata are cortisone injections to the affected area, or treating it with a solution of 5% minoxidil. Many people with this condition receive very positive results from the use of essential oil therapies.

Alopecia universalis/totalis is the total loss of all body hair, including the face and upper body, and can also affect the growth of nails. Suggested treatments for Alopecia universalis/totalis are topical immunotherapy involving the use of a chemical irritant to the areas where hair has been lost. The irritant stimulates hair growth by forcing the immune system to recognize the irritation. Aromatherapy (the use of essential oils) is very popular in the treatment of this type of alopecia.

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