Types of Hair Loss

There are many different forms of hair loss, which is also known as alopecia, that occur for a variety of reasons. Not all alopecia is accompanied by permanent hair loss, and receiving a diagnosis from your doctor can uncover a number of treatment options that work for you.

Androgenic Alopecia

Androgenic alopecia, or pattern baldness, is a genetic type of hair loss that commonly affects both men and women. The condition is caused when enzymes in the body convert the hormone testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). This conversion process causes hair follicles to shrink, allowing hair to fall out. Pattern baldness has a number of treatment options that include medications like spironolactone or finasteride.

Alopecia Areata

The symptoms of alopecia areata may appear as circular patches on the scalp or complete baldness. Many medical professionals tend to see this as related to autoimmune-system disorders in which healthy hair follicles are attacked by the body. There is, however, wide speculation that alopecia areata is triggered by traumatic events or extreme stress.

A natural remedy for alopecia areata is natural oils that can be rubbed directly into the scalp to stimulate new hair growth. You can mix three to four drops of rosemary, sage, lavendar or peppermint oils with one tablespoon of almond or olive oil before gently rubbing the mixture into your scalp in a circular motion. These oils can be found at most local health food stores

Alopecia Totalis and Alopecia Universalis

In some cases, alopecia can progress to the entire scalp, which is known as alopecia totalis. At its most extreme level, hair loss can even occur on the entire body in a condition known as alopecia universalis. Potential solutions to these types of alopecia include taking cortisone pills or applying topical chemicals such as squaric acid dibutyl ester (SADBE), diphencyprone (DPCP), or dinitrochlorobenzene (DNCB) to the scalp for about six months. Topical immunotherapy treatment produces an allergic reaction resembling a poison ivy rash that stimulates hair growth.

Cicatricial Alopecia

Also known as "scarring alopecia," primary and secondary cicatricial alopecia are types of hair loss in which follicles are destroyed and replaced by scar tissue. Primary cicatrical alopecia consists of an autoimmune-system attack that directly causes inflammation and destruction of the top layer of hair follicles. Secondary cicatrical alopecia is caused by scarring due to severe infection as well as chemical or temperature burns.

Because symptoms from primary scarring alopecia are tricky to diagnose, it is best to see a doctor and request a biopsy. If there is a clear diagnosis of primary cicatricial alopecia, medications such as corticosteroids, antibiotics, or both are often prescribed.