The Lowdown On Alopecia
Alopecia has made headlines recently after the infamous oscar incident with Will Smith and Chris Rock. Whilst the actions of Will Smith have divided opinions across the globe, it is the condition of his wife's hair (or lack of) that has left many curious about alopecia, what causes it and its severity, so read on to find out more.
What is Alopecia?
Alopecia is essentially hair loss and is the medical term given to describe areas on the head and body where hair has stopped growing.
There are different types of alopecia and it can be caused by genetics, hair damage and can occur for no reason at all and it can affect anyone.
Celebrities with the condition include Sinead O Connor, and Jada Pinkett Smitth. Speaking about her alopecia areata, during a May 2018 episode of her Facebook Watch series, Red Table Talk, Jada Pinkett-Smith said “It was terrifying when it first started. I was in the shower one day and had just handfuls of hair in my hands and I was just like, ‘Oh, my God, am I going bald?’” Since then she has accepted the condition and shaved her head.
Check out some of the primary causes of Alopecia below via Alopecia UK.
Alopecia Areata is thought to be an autoimmune condition that causes hair to fall out, usually in usually in round or oval patches on the scalp or other places on the body that grow hair, such as the beard, eyebrows or eyelashes. Types of Alopecia Areata include Patchy Alopecia Areata, Alopecia Totalis, Alopecia Universalis, Alopecia Barbae, Diffuse Alopecia Areata and Alopecia Ophiasis.
Androgenetic Alopecia (Pattern Hair Loss)
Male pattern hair loss and female pattern hair loss. Hairs falls out in a well-defined pattern in men, whereas in women, the hair usually becomes thinner all over the head rather than receding from the temples.
Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia (Scarring Alopecia)
Primary scarring alopecias (also known as cicatricial alopecias or scarring hair loss) are a group of conditions that destroy the hair follicle, replace it with scar tissue, and cause permanent hair loss. In Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia, hair loss starts in the centre of the scalp and slowly spreads outwards.
Chemotherapy Induced Alopecia (Anagen Effluvium)
Chemotherapy-Induced Alopecia (CIA) is when the hair falls out following chemotherapy. It is one of the most visibly distressing side effects of commonly administered chemotherapeutic drugs.
Frontal Fibrosing Alopecia (Scarring Alopecia)
Frontal Fibrosing Alopecia (FFA) is a type of Scarring Alopecia, where the hair follicle is destroyed and replaced with scar tissue. In Frontal Fibrosing Alopecia, hair falls out across the front of the scalp. Hair loss can also affect the eyebrows.
Lichen Planopilaris (Scarring Alopecia)
Primary Scarring Alopecias (also known as cicatricial alopecias or scarring hair loss) are a group of conditions that destroy the hair follicle, replace it with scar tissue, and cause permanent hair loss. In Lichen Planopilaris, patches of scalp appear, most commonly on the sides, front and lower back of the scalp.
With Telogen Effluvium more hairs than usual move into the telogen (resting) phase and shed, so you may notice more hair falling out than usual. Telogen Effluvium is often caused by a physical or psychological trigger and often resolves itself spontaneously.
Traction Alopecia (hair loss)
Traction Alopecia is when hair falls out because it has been pulled in the same way for a long time. This condition is often caused by tight hairstyles, relaxers or extensions.
Trichotillomania (hair pulling)
Trichotillomania is a psychological condition, where you cannot stop pulling out hair, which leads to hair loss. The most common places that people pull hair from are the scalp, eyebrows, and eyelashes.
Early Signs of Alopecia
Hair doesn't just start falling without signs. Knowing the early symptoms can aid in quick diagnosis and treatment. Here are some of the early signs:
The appearance of tiny pimples at the base of the scalp
Red and sore scalp resulting in itching and hair breaking
Excess hair strands on a hairbrush.
Hair loss from other body parts like the eyebrows, beards, pubic hair, etc
White lines on the nails
Excessive hair thinning and loss of volume
Prevention of Alopecia
If you notice any of the above it is best to seek medical attention to rule out anything more serious. To prevent further hair loss you can also:
Avoid chemical treatments
Use soft bristle brushes and wide tooth combs
Avoid hairstyles that cause tension on the scalp and rub the hairline
Don't use high-heat hair styling tools
Some Alopecia Treatments include
Topical immunotherapy is a medical process of triggering an allergic reaction on the scalp. It seeks to stimulate the immune system to support more healthy hair production.
It also involves the application of a chemical to the scalp to aid blood flow to the hair follicles.
This treatment option is similar to topical immunotherapy. It also stimulates the immune system to promote hair growth.
Other alternatives are corticosteroid injections and oral corticosteroids.
Alopecia could occur due to several factors. Whether it is age-related, chemical-triggered, or traction-caused, it is best to have a doctor diagnose the condition before attempting to treat or self medicate.