What is Alopecia?

Alopecia is simply another word for hair loss. There are many types of Alopecia and they can be caused by many factors including genes, hormones, certain drugs and therapies, auto immune diseases and general aging of the hair follicles. The cause for some types of Alopecia is not yet understood and therefore makes treatment difficult. There is still much to be understood about hair loss, its causes and the best way to treat each individual.

Different Types of Alopecia

There are many types of alopecia which can vary in severity. Some alopecia such as androgenic, traction and involutional are fairly common and refer to male and female pattern baldness, the loss of hair normally caused by having the gene passed down from a family member, usually the maternal side. Other causes can be accelerated age or excessive rubbing from a ball cap or head gear from a work environment such as construction work.

Other types such as totalis and universalis begin with patchy hair loss and can result in the loss of all the hair on the head or entire body. Children and young adults most commonly suffer from alopecia areata. This type of hair loss is characterized by the loss of patches of hair anywhere on the body and can result in complete baldness.

What Treatment Options Are Available?

Seeing a dermatologist to be tested for a specific diagnosis or what type of alopecia you have, as well as ruling out things like dermatitis and possible thyroid problems is recommended. Types of steroids have been created to help in reversing the symptoms of alopecia, this solution comes in forms of shots to the primary area as well as topical creams. Holistic methods such as tea tree oil and acupuncture have also been known to show positive results. There are many medications available on the market today that claim to not only stop hair loss, but actually reverse the effects. One commonly used course is Rogaine which is part of a group of drugs called vasodilators, but the reason they can cause hair growth is actually unknown.

Propecia is another drug used to fight hair loss, which is a prescription used only for men that actually lowers the levels of androgens in the body. Nioxin, actually lowers the level of androgens in your body, which is the hormone thought to cause hair loss.  Bosley treatment and certain vitamins are produced to help stimulate the pores and move the blood flow t the scalp to create hair growth. Many people have seen drastic changes in their hair with these products and others have not seen much at all. No cases of additional hair loss have been reported.

Surgical hair restoration is the most invasive procedure available, and comes with many more pitfalls than is generally understood. Hair transplantation is the most recommended technique in surgical restoration and can be effective, however there are not many surgeons qualified to complete this surgery. Skin grafting is another form of surgical treatment in which similar pieces of skin are removed from the back or side of the scalp completely and transplanted to the balding areas. There are many risks to these procedures including necrosis, abnormal hair lines, infection, permanent shock or numbness, loss of blood to the scalp, extreme scaring and an abnormal “pluggy” look once complete. The recovery for any of the above procedures can be very painful and runs a high risk of infection. Soreness and swelling are common as well as bruising and continued numbness over the weeks following the surgery.

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