Aug 19

Main Types of Hair Loss

iStock_000013629008Small-300x198We talk about hair loss and the different ways it can happen in our articles, but we’ve only skimmed the big names. It’s time we tell you more about the kinds of hair loss known to date, and their causes. It’s the classic “nature vs nurture” dilemma, because hair loss can happen genetically, or due to outside sources.

Androgenic Alopecia

This is the most common form of hair loss, due to the genes you inherit. Once thought to only come from the mother’s side of the family, you can inherit hair loss from either parent. It’s also known as “Male Pattern Baldness,” presumably because most men that go through hair loss follow a similar pattern.

MPH usually begins with a receding hairline, beginning from the temples and diffusing across the scalp until a “wreath” of hair is left across the sides and the back of the skill. This can sometimes start atop the scalp with thinning hair that turns into a bald spot. There is a type of “Female Pattern Baldness” that also effects men, though more common in women. This type of Androgenic Alopecia has more thinning characteristics as the dominating feature, where the hair across the head becomes incredibly thin, but baldness and total hair loss do not occur.

The causes of MPH have mainly come down to hormones and genetics. Men and women with abnormally high volumes ofdihydrotestosterone (DHT) suffer from hair loss because DHT directly effects the growth of hair. During times of puberty, DHT increases hair growth on the body, eventually slowing down. However, later in life, men specifically have higher levels of testosterone known as “free testosterone”, possibly due to the slowdown of development, and this free testosterone is converted into DHT. The scalp tends to have the highest volume of DHT secretion/conversion, and this abundance suffocates the hair follicles, causing hair loss.

In terms of genetics, it comes down to the “diathetic-stress” model, or more simply put it’s in the genes, but needs a catalyst. It’s been commonly said to come from maternal heritage, because the X chromosome contains the androgen receptor (AR) gene, or the receptor for testosterone. However, the variant of the AR that causes baldness is recessive, and there is still much research to be conducted on the multifactorial variables that come to play in genetics and hair loss.

The largest effects people have noticed with MPH are psychological. Men, and women, tend to become more stressed about their physical attractiveness and body image. They tend to find the experience distressing because it is unwanted, and nothing that they can directly control. Thankfully, these days there are multiple kinds of hair care treatment and hair loss shampoos in these modern times to fight hair loss.

Alopecia Areata

This type of hair loss is most commonly known as “Spot Baldness.” Hair loss starts with a bald spot on the head, and then depending on the classification of spot baldness, it can have multiple appearances. There are multiple kinds of spot baldness that can diffuse across the scalp, there can be one or multiple bald spots, the baldness can spread across the entirety of the head, and it can even happen along the beard or body hair.

Typically, spot baldness starts with small bald patches in the affected area. There are no visible underlying causes of the skin or the scalp, however there are psychosomatic symptoms such as a tingling or even painful sensation where the hair is lost. The causes are strictly genetic, and it comes down to two hereditary characteristics: the genotype itself, and an autoimmune disease. Spot baldness can happen through several genetic causes, but an autoimmune disorder is the most popular concept. It is believed that the body attacks its own anagen (growing) hair follicles, and eventually suppresses or completely stops hair growth.

Mild cases of spot baldness go untreated, because unless an autoimmune disorder, the body will balance things out and the hair will spontaneously start to grow back. However, in the more severe cases, there is no end-all treatment. The main medical treatments today are topical ointments and creams containing diphenylcyclopropenone. For most, the ending solution is a hair piece or wig.

Traction Alopecia

This is an explicitly external source form of hair loss that is an effect of consistent styling. Hairstyles that apply a puling force to the hair, such as braids, cornrows, and tight ponytails, will eventually wear down the hair follicles and lead to gradual hair loss. Another cause is tight fitting headgear, whether for safety or for fashion.

Being an externally caused form of hair loss, there is no medical treatment for it. The most common treatment is surgical to restore the hair that is lost. There could be a chance of restoring hair follicles with some forms of hair care treatment aimed at reactivating dormant hair follicles, such as minoxidil spray. However, this is simply speculation, and not tested.

Telogen Effluvium

Discussed in an earlier article, this type of hair loss is characterized by an increase of shedding or thinning of the hair. Typically caused by psychological stress, among other causes, this type of hair loss alters the normal hair growth cycle. However, removing the cause can undo the effects with high volumes of shedding. The most common form of shedding is “Anagen Effluvium,” caused typically by exposure to radiation, such as chemo therapy.

There are many ways hair loss can happen, and there are many different types and/or classifications of each form of hair loss. Not all types can be directly treated, but there is always a chance of balancing things out or reversing hair loss with hair care treatments.

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