Types of Hair Loss
Health - Types of Hair Loss
To understand hair loss, you must first understand the growth process of hair. There are two phases, growth and rest. The normal growth period lasts between 2-6 years, within which time hair grows approximately ½ inch per month. Hair then rests for approximately 3-4 months, at the end of which time it falls out to make way for new hair growth. It is normal to shed some hair during the resting period; however, when hair loss exceeds growth, this may signal a problem.
Health issues can cause hair loss in men, women and children, as can chemicals or radiation. Some types of hair loss are hereditary, while others may be self-induced. Hair loss can be temporary or permanent in nature, treatable or non-treatable, depending on the type.
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Androgenic Alopecia, or pattern baldness, considered the most common type of baldness, is hereditary. Androgenic Alopecia affects males and females. It is caused when a person's hair growth period shortens, leaving the hair loosely rooted and more likely to fall out. It is considered permanent in nature. There are medications that may help to slow the rate of hair loss and even help hair to grow; however, once you stop taking the medication, the hair growth stops.
The medical term for hair loss is Alopecia, and there are three types of hair loss under this category: Alopecia Areata, Alopecia Areata Totalis, and Alopecia Areata Universalis. While thought to be caused when a person's immune system attacks the hair follicles, the hair loss may also be triggered by a virus, or could possibly be hereditary. With Alopecia Areata, round patches of hair fall from the scalp in clumps. Rarer forms of Alopecia Areata include Areata Totalis-total baldness of the scalp, and Areata Universalis-total baldness of the entire body. These three types of hair loss can be permanent; however, in most cases, hair will eventually grow back.
Also known as scarring Alopecia, Cicatrical Alopecia is caused by inflammation of the skin which creates scarring, thereby damaging hair follicles and preventing new hair growth. It is not known what causes the inflammation; however, once scarring occurs, hair will not grow back. Hair loss is permanent.
Emotional or physical changes to the body can trigger Telogen Effluvium. These conditions can cause hair roots to go into the resting state early, pushing already growing hairs out of the way. Hair typically grows back once the emotional or physical issues are resolved.
Traction Alopecia and Trichtotillomania
These types of hair loss are considered self-induced. Traction Alopecia is caused by the over-styling or pulling of hair. Trichtotillomania is considered a psychological disorder caused by a person habitually pulling his or her hair out in patches. With both types, if there is damage to the hair follicle, hair loss can be permanent. Ceasing to pull on the hair will usually remedy the situation and hair will again grow normally.
Infections of the scalp can lead to hair loss; however, if the scalp is treated properly and no scarring takes place, hair will again begin to grow once the infection is cleared up
While some types of hair loss are not considered health threats, others may indicate a more serious health problem. Any concerns you have involving hair loss should be discussed with your physician.