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Types of Alopecia

Androgenetic  Alopecia

The majority of women with androgenetic - also called androgenic - alopecia have diffuse thinning on all areas of the scalp. (Men rarely have diffuse thinning but instead have more distinct patterns of baldness.) Some women have a combination of two pattern types.

Androgenic alopecia in women is due to the action of androgens, male hormones that are typically present in only small amounts. Androgenic alopecia can be caused by a variety of factors tied to the actions of hormones, including some ovarian cysts, taking high androgen index birth control pills, pregnancy, and menopause.

Just as in men, the hormone DHT appears to be at least partially to blame for the miniaturization of hair follicles in women suffering with female pattern baldness. Heredity plays a major factor in the disease.

Alopecia Areata

An inappropriate inflammatory reaction is behind alopecia areata. A person's own immune system attacks the roots of hair follicles. Symptoms include patchy shedding of hair, which sometimes develops quite suddenly. About 70% of patients recover their hair within two years, whether or not they receive treatment.

Traction Alopecia

This condition is caused by localized trauma to the hair follicles from tight hairstyles that pull at the hair over time. If the condition is detected early enough, the hair will regrow. Braiding, cornrows, tight ponytails, and extensions are the most common styling causes of traction alopecia.

Alopecia Areata is a highly unpredictable, autoimmune skin disease resulting in the loss of hair on the scalp and elsewhere on the body. This disease affects approximately 1.7 percent of the population overall, including more than 4 million people in the United States alone. Alopecia Areata is not commonly known; the impact on ones life can be significant for an adult at work as well as children and adolescents in school.

Alopecia Areata occurs in males and females and can occur at any age. When Alopecia Areata is experienced during childhood or adolescence it can be particularly difficult. Alopecia Areata is not a life threatening condition and is too often regarded as a manageable cosmetic condition by health insurance providers. Although not life-threatening, Alopecia Areata may occur suddenly, its unpredictability makes it difficult to treat as well as manage cosmetically.

Alopecia Areata usually starts with one or more small, round, smooth bald areas on the scalp and can progress to Alopecia Totalis, total scalp hair loss as well as Alopecia Universalis, complete body hair loss.

Alopecia Totalis is complete hair loss of the scalp and frequently begins as Alopecia Areata. Alopecia Areata does not always spread to total hair loss of the scalp. Alopecia Totalis is not always preceded by Alopecia Areata.

Alopecia Universalis is total body hair loss; the cause is the same as Alopecia Areata and Alopecia Totalis.