Types of Hair Loss
The best way to address premature hair loss and thinning is to understand their causes. Treatment is specific to each of these causes. There are generally six categories of hair loss based on origin or cause. Consult with your doctor or dermatologist to see where your hair loss category falls.
1. Alopecia Aerata
As an auto-immune disease of the hair, this appears as a rounded patch of thinning hair typically an inch wide and afflicts men and women at any time in their lives. It is usually temporary with most experiencing hair regrowth after but about 20% of those afflicted in the UK suffer permanent hair loss. The disease is triggered by the bodys immune system which looks at hair follicles as foreign to the body and attacks them. White blood cells or T-lymphocytes attack hair follicles to inhibit growth and fall out after three month into its resting or telogen phase. Stopping the white blood cells from attacking the hair follicles will result to regrowth of new hair.
2. Androgenetic Alopecia or Male Pattern Baldness
This accounts for 95% of all hair loss cases in both sexes. It is observed that people with genetic predisposition suffer from it and only lately has genetic research confirmed the presence of genes responsible for early hair thinning. The male hormone testosterone, more specifically dihydrotestosterone produced by the enzyme 5 alpha reductase, goes into overproduction in genetically predisposed individuals causing hair follicles to shrink and produce narrow increasingly thinner hair shafts and eventually die out.
3. Anagen Effluvium, Chemotherapy induced Hair Loss
This is sudden but swiftly progressive hair loss over a 1-3 week period resulting from chemicals introduced to the body from certain chemotherapy or radiation treatment. Exposure to chemicals like thallium and Arsenic are also known to cause sudden hair loss. It is the side effect of chemotherapy to destroy cancer cells which also causes hair follicles to grow finer and weaker hair or stop growing hair. But this is temporary. Once the chemotherapy is complete, hair grows back to their former abundance though some have reported a different color or texture.
4. Telogen Effluvium, Stress-caused hair loss
This happens when severe or sudden stress, like surgery, causes the hair to prematurely stop growing and enter into a resting phase called telogen. After 3 months into telogen, the hair falls off and the person may suffer from a large amount of hair fall after the stressful conditions that have caused them are gone. The hair loss is often temporary and afflicts more women undergoing the stress of childbirth, pregnancy termination, starting or ending the use of birth control pills, dieting drugs or emotional stress.
5. Self-Induced Hair Loss
You can damage your hair with or without intending. People with psychological disorders have been known to pull or pluck out their hair and can cause bald patches on the scalp. This self-induced hair loss is called Trichotillomania and may also happen in children pulling their hair. Another is called Traction Alopecia which results from certain hairstyles that continuously pull or stress hair like braiding or dreadlocking. Shifting to a freer hairstyle can address traction hair loss.
6. Scarring Alopecia
Inflammation of the hair follicles caused by skin infection like the Lichen Planus and the tissue disease Discoid Lupus Erythematosus result in hair losses. The Lichen Planus is an inflammatory skin disorder that can cause unsightly bad patches anywhere on the scalp or other body areas as well, while discoid lupus is a connective tissue disorder that causes lesions on the scalp.