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Alopecia: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention

Sep 08, 2023

Alopecia Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention

Hair loss, or alopecia, can be either temporary or permanent, affecting only your scalp or the entire body. It could be caused by genetic features, hormonal changes, illnesses, or a typical aspect of aging. Although everyone can lose hair on their head, men are more likely to do so than women.

The word "baldness" is frequently used to indicate a dramatic loss of scalp hair. The most common cause of baldness as people age is hereditary hair loss. Some people would rather not use medicine or other forms of camouflage to treat their hair loss. 

Some individuals might conceal it with hats, scarves, makeup, or hairstyles. Others adapt to use one of the treatments on offer to prevent  future hair loss or encourage growth.

Causes Of Alopecia

An average person loses 50 to 100 hairs per day. This is usually overlooked because fresh hair is growing at the same time. Hair loss is the result of lost hair that is not being replaced by new hair.

Hair loss is typically caused by one or more of the following elements:

  • Family history (Heredity). The most frequent cause of hair loss is an inherited condition that worsens with age. It goes by the labels androgenic alopecia, male-pattern baldness, and female-pattern baldness. Men commonly have a receding hairline and bald spots, while women commonly experience thinning hair at the top of the head. Typically, it happens gradually and in predictable patterns.
  • Medical disorders and changes in hormone levels. The hormonal changes brought on by pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, and thyroid issues are just a few of the situations that can result in permanent or temporary hair loss. Alopecia areata, an immune system-related condition that results in patchy hair loss, scalp infections like ringworm, and the hair-pulling disorder trichotillomania are examples of medical illnesses.
  • Vitamins and medications. A side effect of some medications, including those for cancer, arthritis, depression, heart issues, gout, and high blood pressure, is hair loss.
  • Treatment using radiation to the head. There's a chance that the hair won't regrow exactly the same way.
  • An extremely stressful situation. Several months after a traumatic experience, whether physical or emotional, many people realize that their hair is generally thinning. The effects of these hair treatments and styles are temporary hair loss. 

Traction alopecia, a form of hair loss, can be brought on by over-styling and tight-pulling hairstyles like bunches and bunches. Both hot oil treatments and permanent hair coloring can dry out and break off hair. Hair loss may become permanent if there are scars.

Symptoms  Of Alopecia

Depending on the cause, hair loss can manifest in a variety of ways. It might affect your entire body or just your scalp and appear suddenly or gradually.

Hair loss may show certain signs and symptoms, such as:

  • Top of the head gradually losing hair. People who are older tend to experience this form of hair loss the most frequently. Men frequently experience hairline receding on the forehead.
  • In the hair, women often have a wider portion. A receding hairline (facial fibrosing alopecia), which is becoming more and more common in elderly women, is a hair loss pattern.
  • Patchy or circular bald spots. Some persons have hair loss in the form of bald patches or circles on their eyebrows, beards, or scalp. Your skin may begin to itch or hurt before the hair begins to come out.
  • Sudden hair shedding. A shock to the body or the mind may cause hair to go loose. When you wash or comb your hair, or even after giving your hair a mild tug, you might lose a few handfuls of hair. This type of temporary hair loss frequently causes overall hair thinning.
  • Complete hair loss. Hair loss can occur all over your body as a result of some diseases and medical treatments, like chemotherapy for cancer. Hair generally regrows.
  • Scaling that occurs on the scalp in areas. This is an indication of ringworm. Broken hair, redness, swelling, and occasionally leaking are possible side effects.

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Risk Factors Of Alopecia

There are several situations that could make you more vulnerable to hair loss, including:

  • Age
  • Weight loss
  • Several medical disorders, including diabetes and lupus
  • Stress
  • Inadequate dietary intake
  • Genetics (both male and female pattern baldness) is the primary cause of the majority of baldness. It is impossible to prevent this kind of hair loss.

 Diagnosis Of Alopecia

Before making a diagnosis, your doctor will probably perform a physical examination, ask you about your health and You will be questioned about your family history, food, and hair care practises. Additionally, you could undergo the following tests:

  • Blood testing. This might help in detecting medical conditions that can cause hair loss.
  • Pull test. Your doctor carefully pulls out a few hundred hairs to count the ones that fall out. 
  • Biopsy of the scalp. Your doctor scrapes samples from the skin or from a few scalp hairs to examine the hair roots under a microscope. By doing so, it will be easier to determine whether an infection is the root of the hair loss.
  • Bright-field magnifier. Your doctor uses a unique tool to check the hairs after they have been trimmed at the base. Microscopy is useful for identifying potential issues with the hair shaft.

Treatment Of Alopecia

Some types of hair loss are treatable using successful methods. It may be possible to stop or at least reduce hair loss. In some circumstances, like patchy hair loss brought on by alopecia areata, hair may normally recover after a year. Both medical and surgical approaches are available to address hair loss.


You will need to receive treatment for the underlying problem causing your hair loss. Your doctor might suggest stopping the drug for a few months if you're losing hair as a result of it.

There are several different forms of treatment for pattern (hereditary) baldness. The most popular choices include:

  • Rogaine, Minoxidil. Minoxidil is a nonprescription, over-the-counter product that comes in liquid, foam, and shampoo forms.

 Apply the cream once daily for ladies and twice daily for men to the scalp skin for the best results. When foam is applied to wet hair, many individuals prefer it.

Many people who use minoxidil-containing products find that they can either slow down their hair loss or help them regrow hair. For hair regrowth to begin and to stop additional hair loss, therapy must last at least six months. It can take a few more months to find out if the medication works for you.To keep the benefits of the medication if it is working, you must take it continuously forever.

Ingrown hair on the nearby skin of the hands and face is another potential adverse effect, as is irritation of the scalp.

  • Finasterid (Propecia). The medication in question is for males only.You take a medication for it each day. Finasteride slows down hair loss in many men, and in certain circumstances, new hair may even begin to grow. It may take a few months to determine if it is effective for you. You must keep taking it for any benefits to endure. In males over 60, finasteride might not be as effective.

Finasteride seldom causes unwanted side effects like decreased sexual desire and function or an increased risk of prostate cancer.

Avoid touching crushed or broken tablets if you're a woman who is or might be pregnant.

  • Various other drugs. Other oral remedies include spironolactone and oral dutasteride 

Hair Transplant Surgery

The top of the head is the region that is affected by the most prevalent type of permanent hair loss. Making the most of the hair you still have is possible through hair transplant or restoration surgery.

Hair is removed from a hair-bearing area of the head and transplanted to a bald patch during a hair transplant operation by a dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon. Micrografts and minigrafts are hair patches with one to several hairs per. 

A wider skin strip with numerous hair groups may occasionally be removed. Although you won't need to stay in the hospital for this treatment, you will be given sedative medication to help you relax and minimize any pain. 

Bruising, swelling, infection, and bleeding are all potential dangers. In order to achieve your goals, you could require multiple surgeries. Despite surgery, hereditary hair loss will eventually advance.Insurance frequently does not pay for surgical treatments for baldness.

Laser therapy

A low-level laser device has received approval from the Food and Drug Administration as a treatment for male and female genetic hair loss. It increases hair density, according to a few short studies. To demonstrate long-term impacts, additional research is required.

Prevention Of Alopecia

You could preventable kinds of hair loss by following these recommendations:

  • Handle your hair with care. Use a detangler and avoid pulling on your hair when brushing and combing it, especially if it's wet.A wide-toothed comb might help stop hair loss. Avoid using harsh styling tools on your hair, such as hot rollers, curling irons, hot-oil treatments, or permanents. Reduce the stress that barrettes, rubber bands, and braids are putting on your hair.
  • If you are taking any supplements or medications that might be contributing to your hair loss, talk to your doctor.
  • Keep your hair away from the sun's and other sources' UV radiation.
  • Stop smoking. Studies have found a connection between smoking and male pattern baldness.
  • If you are taking chemotherapy, talk to your doctor about a cooling cap. This cap lessens your risk of hair loss while you are receiving chemotherapy.

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