Types of Hair Loss
There are more than 40 different known types of hair fall. The type of hair fall helps to determine the different types of baldness you may be suffering from. Some of these types of hair fall are common, others are quite rare. Determining the type of hair loss can help in understanding which hair fall treatment will be most suitable for your hair loss and the type of baldness. Some of the most common types of hair fall are mentioned below.
Androgenetic alopecia – This type of hair fall can affect both men and women. The hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is primarily responsible for this condition. According to a study published in the journal of The National Center for Biotechnology Information, it is estimated that of all the patients experiencing hair loss, androgenetic alopecia is recognized in 95% of them.
Genetic and environmental factors play an important role in causing androgenetic alopecia. The condition can be classified into the following two types of baldness:
- Male-pattern baldness — This type of baldness is typically characterised by a receding hairline at the temples and balding at the top of the head.
- Female-pattern baldness — This type of baldness is characterised by hair loss and widening of the hair parting, along with a reduction in the density as well as the volume of the hair.
Involution alopecia — With advancing age, a larger number of hair follicles go into the resting phase of the hair growth cycle. This leads to the gradual thinning of hair, which is termed as involution alopecia.
Telogen effluvium — Telogen effluvium is a condition that causes hair thinning and hair loss all over the scalp. In this type of hair fall, hair loss is usually caused by a certain stressor or triggering factor. This causes the hair to prematurely enter the resting phase and, thereafter, shed. Hair loss may occur even three to six months after the initial stressor. The stressor could be anything that causes major physical or emotional impact, like childbirth, death of a loved one, sudden weight loss, starting or stopping of oral contraceptive pills, malaria and typhoid to name a few.
The patient often experiences severe hair loss, with hair falling out in bunches while washing or combing.
Anagen effluvium — It is characterised by the sudden loss of hair in very large numbers. The condition is known as anagen effluvium because the hair falls out in the growth stage of the hair growth cycle. Loss of hair in the growing phase can be quite severe. At any given time, 85-90% of hair follicles are in the anagen phase. Therefore, anagen effluvium can cause most or all the hair on the scalp to fall, which can lead to different types of baldness. It is most commonly seen as a side effect of radiation or chemotherapy given for cancer treatment.
Drug-induced hair loss— This type of hair fall can be caused as a side effect of certain medications. Some of these medications are commonly used, such as cholesterol-lowering drugs, blood thinners, oral contraceptives, medicines for the treatment of gout, and so on. It is important to let your doctor know if you are experiencing hair fall due to any medication so that it can be treated accordingly.
Some of the drugs that can cause hair loss are Allopurinol (used for the treatment of gout); Heparin and Coumarin (blood thinners); Clofibrate, Gemfibrozil (cholesterol-lowering drugs), and most of the chemotherapy medications.
Alopecia areata — Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition characterised by the loss of hair in patches. The onset of alopecia areata can be quite sudden, with rapid hair loss.
The triggering factors for alopecia areata may be linked to the imbalance of the thyroid hormone or sudden and extreme stress. In severe cases, hair can be lost from the entire scalp (alopecia totalis) or from the entire body (alopecia universalis). The condition is known to vary from person to person. Often, the old patches can fill up while new patches still appear.
An important aspect of this condition is that there is no damage to the hair follicle. Therefore, with the right treatment, all the lost hair can potentially grow back.
Traction alopecia — Traction alopecia is caused because of traction or pulls at the root of the hair. It can lead to a type of baldness caused by certain hairstyles that pull at the roots, like tight braids, ponytails, or buns. It can also occur when the hair gets pulled because of the incorrect use of clips, tight rubber bands, etc.
Trichotillomania — Also known as hair-pulling disorder, it is a psychological disorder in which people develop a tendency to pull out their own hair from the scalp, eyebrows, and other areas of the body. This can cause hair loss in the form of bald patches. This type of baldness occurs more frequently in children. For many people with this condition, hair pulling is a way of dealing with negative or uncomfortable feelings, such as anxiety, stress, boredom, tension, loneliness, fatigue, or frustration.
These are some of the major types of hair fall, causing different types of baldness. However, there can also be some other reasons for hair loss that can lead to a hair fall problem.
- Hair fall due to the presence of infections — Syphilitic alopecia (caused by systemic syphilis) and tinea capitis (a localised fungal infection of the scalp) are some of the infections that can cause different types of hair fall
- Hair fall due to generalised atrichia — The types of hair fall caused due to the presence of a recessive hairless gene fall under this category. This is one of the very rare types of hair fall
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