Understanding Hair Loss in Men and Women

While hair loss is certainly unsettling it is not unusual. There are a number of causes of hair loss. Among these are:

Androgenetic Alopecia

hair loss.Androgenetic Alopecia is the medical term for either male or female pattern baldness. Androgenetic Alopecia represents close to 95% of all hair loss. This type of hair loss can be defined in two parts. First, andro- means to consist of androgens which are various hormones that control the appearance and development of masculine characteristics such as testosterone. Second is genetics, or the inheritance of genes from either the mother or father. Age added to genetics creates a time clock that signals the hair follicle to produce an enzyme named 5-alpha reductase, which is held in the hair follicle's oil gland. When testosterone is present in the follicle, and it combines with the enzyme 5-alpha reductase, it produces Dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT attacks the hair follicle, causing it to shrink, finally causing the hair to fall out and not grow back. Hair follicles that are sensitive to DHT must be exposed to the hormone for a prolonged period of time in order for the affected follicle to complete the miniaturization process. When DHT is suppressed, hair follicles continue to thrive.

hair loss caused by male pattern baldness (Androgenetic Alopecia). Androgenic Alopecia or male pattern baldness (MPB) is responsible for the vast majority of hair loss in men. Male pattern baldness is generally characterized with the onset of a receding hairline and thinning crown. Hair in these areas including the temples and mid-anterior scalp appear to be the most sensitive to DHT. This pattern eventually progresses into more apparent baldness throughout the entire top of the scalp, leaving only a rim or "horseshoe" pattern of hair remaining in the more advanced stages of MPB. For some men even this remaining rim of hair can be affected by DHT.

In women, Androgenetic Alopecia is also known as female pattern alopecia or baldness. The majority of women with Androgenetic Alopecia have diffuse thinning on all areas of the scalp It affects approximately one-third of all susceptible women, but is most commonly seen after menopause.

Traction Alopecia

Traction alopecia is caused by trauma to the hair follicles from tight hairstyles that pull at the hair over time. Braiding, cornrows, tight ponytails, and extensions are the most common styling causes of traction alopecia.

Alopecia Areata, Totalis, and Universalis

hair loss.Alopecia Areata, a disease of the body that causes hair loss, affects approximately two million Americans. Alopecia Areata causes patchy hair loss. Two other forms of this disease are Alopecia Totalis and Alopecia Universalis. Alopecia Totalis is the condition that causes the loss of hair over the entire scalp; Alopecia Universalis is when the condition of hair loss spreads over the entire body, even including eyebrows and eyelashes.

Although the causes of Alopecia Areata are unknown, there is evidence that it could be a breakdown of the immune system resulting in what is called an autoimmune disorder. This is when the immune system thinks that the hair follicle is a foreign body, and attacks it. There is also the possibility that heredity plays a factor, because studies have shown that for one out of five people with Alopecia Areata, someone else in the family also had it.

Anagen Effluvium

hair loss caused by chemotherapy. Anagen Effluvium is the condition where hair loss is caused by internally taking certain medicines that can affect the hair follicle, keeping it from growing. One of the most common medicines that causes this type of hair loss is chemotherapy agents. Since chemotherapy targets rapidly dividing cancer cells, your body's other rapidly dividing cells -- such as hair follicles in the growing (anagen) phase -- are also affected. Soon after chemotherapy begins, approximately 90% or more of hairs in the anagen phase can fall out.

Telogen Effluvium, is due to an increased number of hair follicles entering the resting stage.

Trichotillomania

Trichotillomania (trick-o-till-o-may-nee-uh) (TTM or “trich”), also known as Hair Pulling Disorder, is characterized by the repetitive pulling out of one's own hair. Research indicates that about 1 or 2 in 50 people experience trichotillomania in their lifetime. It usually begins in late childhood/early puberty. In childhood, it occurs about equally in boys and girls. By adulthood, 80-90% of reported cases are women. Hair pulling varies greatly in its severity, location on the body, and response to treatment. Without treatment, trichotillomania tends to be a chronic condition, that may come and go throughout a lifetime.

Although the severity of hair pulling varies greatly, many people with trichotillomania have noticeable hair loss, which they attempt to camouflage. Thinning or bald spots on the head may be covered with hairstyles, scarves, wigs, or makeup.


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