Alopecia is a medical condition where there is a loss of hair. It can be on the head or any part of the body. An extreme condition of alopecia can lead to total baldness. This is not to be confused with the serious psychological condition known as trichotillomania where individuals intentionally pull the hair off their bodies in an effort to achieve some neurotic perfection of flawless skin. Alopecia hair loss is involuntary and it can negatively affect the lives of those who suffer from it.
Alopecia hair loss can occur by merely styling the hair. Having the hair in a ponytail or a braid that is very tight will cause a pulling pain on the scalp. The scalp will react to the pain and eventually let the hair fall out. Also, the loss could be a result from burns caused by chemicals used in hair relaxers and burns from flat irons. Burns will disable the skin's ability to grow new hair.
Alopecia hair loss can be a symptom of other medical conditions. It can indicate low iron level in the body. This condition is involuntary and might appear if the body is going through a hormonal imbalance, if you are taking medication, experiencing fatigue or stress and other skin problems. Alopecia that occurs only on a certain area or a single section is called alopecia areata hair loss. However if the body loses hair completely like what happens after a chemotherapy treatment, it is called alopecia universalis. The type of loss can be diagnosed by examining the skin and the hair.
Here is the list of the causes of Alopecia hair loss:
Pattern baldness - can happen to both women and men. It occurs in a pattern usually starting from the upper portion of the head or forehead and may result in total baldness, which is called Alopecia Totalis. The pattern on women is not the same as men and may not end up with complete baldness. Over time, the hair becomes thinner on the woman's scalp and the hairline recedes further back.
Chemical breakage - frequent usage of chemical relaxers will cause the hair follicles to die. The scalp will not be capable of growing new hair.
Ringworm on the scalp - this is a fungal infection that affects the shaft of the hair. It forms a black dot pattern that creates patches on the scalp. It weakens the follicles and produces weak, thin hair that breaks easily. It is most common among young children.
Heat damage - too much exposure to heat especially when using a hot curling iron will damage the scalp and might end up burning the skin. Even with out burning the scalp, if too much heat is applied it will not be capable of regrowing hair.
Iron deficiency - iron helps in supplying oxygen to the blood and the body. The blood has to be able to circulate the right amount of oxygen thus making the skin healthier. Unhealthy skin will not be able to hold hair.
Hair pulling - this is the habit of pulling out the hair, which is more common in kids compared to adults. It may not at first be seen as the reason for the hair loss by parents or doctors and over a period of time might be diagnosed as some other kind of infection.
Telogen effluvium - is a condition that is caused by both physical and psychological stress. This will result in a mass of hair follicles going into telogen, which is a phase of rest. When this happens hair stops growing. Some of the causes are a rapid loss of weight, illness with high fever and severe hormonal imbalance. Drugs that cause telogen effluvium are those that are used for chemotherapy, treating high pressure, etc.
Alopecia hair loss can't be avoided especially if the cause is a genetic pattern. But for those who do not want to suffer the alopecia hair loss, start taking care of your hair especially the scalp. Alopecia treatment does exist for some cases. Like anything you have to find an underlying cause before you can take steps to cure it. No one wants to have hair loss from alopecia. Women especially are devastated by it compared to men, so quick action many prevent further alopecia hair loss.
Unfortunately in some cases nothing can be done about it. The loss of hair is inevitable. While this might seem like a loss of identity you would not be the first person to go through this kind of trauma. Hats and wigs can help cover up the loss of hair and they have been used for that purpose for centuries. There are hair replacement surgeries that can also help. Don't let it stop you from living life if you are having trouble coping with the changes.
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