How do I know what type of Alopecia I have?
Different types of alopecia call for different approaches to treatment.
Alopecia is an umbrella term for hair loss. There are several kinds, and your treatment options depend on the type you have.
Some Common Alopecia Types and Treatments Types of the condition that can affect your scalp include:
Androgenic alopecia. This is common for women and men. It’s also known as male- or female-pattern hair loss.
If you’re a woman, it can thin your hair, but your hairline doesn’t recede and you’re unlikely to become totally bald. Women often notice a widening of their part. If you’re a man, the condition often leads to complete or partial baldness. Your genes and your environment seem to play roles in causing this.
Alopecia areata. This is also known as patchy baldness. The bald patches can show up anywhere on your body, but many people get a round or oval patch on the scalp.
Alopecia areata is a type of autoimmune disease—your immune system attacks your hair follicles by mistake. Your hair may grow back on its own without treatment (if it does, it’s also possible for it to fall out again).
Medications that you put on your bald patches:
· Steroid shots that your dermatologist gives you in the office
· Chemicals your dermatologist applies to your scalp for extensive hair loss (also called topical immunotherapy)
Alopecia totalis. This is a form of alopecia aerata that makes you lose all the hair on your scalp.
Traction alopecia.This is caused by putting stress on hair through repeated pulling or stretching.
You can develop this condition if you often wear your hair in a tight ponytail, buns, dreadlocks, hair extensions, weaves, or braids, all the time; the continuous pulling can damage hair follicles. If damage due to pulling persists, it can cause permanent hair loss. Switching over to less-damaging hairstyles and rotating hairstyles can go a long way toward reversing traction alopecia. This type is most common among women of African descent. Hair transplantation is the most common medical treatment for chronic cases. It is better to catch it early and modify hairstyles to prevent the progression of traction alopecia.
Cicatricial alopecia . This is a “scarring” type of alopecia. It involves inflammation that destroys hair follicles. The destroyed follicles get replaced by scar tissue, resulting in permanent hair loss in the area. Sometimes the condition brings on symptoms like itching, pain, and a sensation of heat.
This type of hair loss may occur when there is continuous abrasion on the scalp, like burning from treatments in the salon that has a strong chemical base, e.g. hair relaxers, dyes, and curling lotions. However, prolonged dandruff conditions that cause excessive itching resulting in you scratching or scraping the scalp profusely, is a contributor to this type of hair loss.
There’s a chance that oral, topical, or injected medicines could help you regrow hair if you take them early on in the course of the disease, before permanent damage happens.
Remember, it doesn’t matter what may have caused your hair loss, it is important to adopt an appropriate haircare routine to help reduce breakage, and help the hair you have still remain full and healthy.
Next week we will look at how Alopecia affects us mentally. Read about one woman’s story about how she has been living with Alopecia for over 20 years, and how she has triumphed over this disease.