Alopecia is the loss of hair. Hair loss can be caused by different reasons, including damage to the hair shaft or follicles. Fungal infections can also cause hair loss. There are two main types of alopecia. Alopecia areata occurs when the body’s immune system attacks hair follicles and causes hair to fall out. This particular abnormality leads to autoimmunity. As a result, the immune system attacks particular tissues of the body. In alopecia areata, for unknown reasons, the body’s own immune system attacks the hair follicles and disrupts normal hair formation. Biopsies of affected skin show immune cells inside of the hair follicles where they are not normally present. What causes this is unknown. Alopecia areata is sometimes associated with other autoimmune conditions such as allergic disorders, thyroid disease,vitiligo, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and ulcerative colitis. Sometimes, alopecia areataoccurs within family members, suggesting a role of genes and heredity.
Androgenetic alopecia, on the other hand, is an inherited form of hair loss. For many years, scientists thought that androgenetic alopecia was caused by the predominance of the male sex hormone, testosterone, which women also have in trace amounts under normal conditions. While testosterone is at the core of the balding process, DHT(dihydrotestosterone) is thought to be the main culprit. The majority of women with androgenic alopecia have diffuse thinning on all areas of the scalp. Men, on the other hand, rarely have diffuse thinning but instead have more distinct patterns of baldness. Some women may 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 ovarian cysts, the taking of high androgen index birth control pills, pregnancy, and menopause. As in men, the hormone DHT appears to be at least partially to blame for the miniaturization of hair follicles in women suffering from female pattern baldness. Heredity plays a major factor in the disease.
With alopecia areata, hair can fall out in patches all over the body. With androgeneticalopecia, hair on the head thins and falls out. About 60% of people with androgeneticalopecia are men. Hair loss caused by androgenetic alopecia is permanent.
Symptoms of alopecia may include:
- Male pattern hair loss: Thinning or complete loss of hair at the hairline and top of the head.
- Female diffuse hair loss: A gradual thinning of hair, especially on the top of the head. The hairline usually remains the same.
- Alopecia areata: Broken hairs, or hairs easily removed. One or more round or oval bald patches.
- Causes may include: Aging, Genetics, Illness, Some medications (such as chemotherapy, Malnutrition, Autoimmune disorder (alopecia areata)
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