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Hair loss, also referred to as alopecia, is a condition characterized by losing hair on the scalp, and in some incidents, in other parts of the skin. It occurs when the human organism does not maintain sufficient hair production, thus is unable to keep up with daily hair loss. This ailment can be triggered by age, genetic background, hormonal abnormalities and use of certain medications or drugs. Despite the common beliefs, this type of condition can affect females and children as well. Although certain forms of hair loss are untreatable, some of them can actually be cured, or at least improved.
The course of alopecia can appear in various forms, depending on the underlying cause and organism’s abilities. It can progress slowly, almost unnoticeable, or very fast, affecting larger areas of the scalp and skin.
The initial features may include:
- Hair thinning on top of the head – most incidents of hair loss start along with this sign. It is a consequence of aging process, which is widely seen in males, as well as females. This natural mechanism is also called as involutional alopecia.
- Full-body hair loss – usually triggered by certain treatment methods or autoimmune disorders. In majority of the incidents, the hairs reappear once the treatment is completed.
- Bald spots – which can appear either as a circles or patches. Those bald areas may be found on the scalp, beard or even eyebrows. Such form is most commonly associated with autoimmune system disorders, mental illnesses and fungal infections of the scalp.
Hair loss can occur as a consequence of multiple causes. There are several factors which can trigger this type of ailment or put a patient at higher risk. Occasionally, the cause may remain unclear, since the exact mechanism of hair loss is in constant investigation.
The most popular causes of hair loss include, for instance:
- Genetic background, which means the hair loss predisposition can be hereditary.
- Hormonal abnormalities
- Medications, such as anabolic steroids, contraceptive pills and drugs associated with diabetes or blood pressure disorders.
- Treatment methods like radiation therapy, hormone replacement therapy and chemotherapy.
- Hair pulling, either due to mental illnesses or use of tight hair styles.
- Skin infections
Some forms of hair loss do not require testing, since they are natural or specific. Nevertheless, in other incidents, it is recommended to look into possible source. Apart from investigations of an underlying disease, a specialist may also perform physical examinations and several tests. Common methods include a pull test, which will help to determine the intensity of hair loss by number, and scalp biopsy, that is done when the cause is unclear or there is a suspicion about the presence of a fungal infection.
Although some forms of hair loss are permanent and unavoidable, there are several methods that can actually increase the hair production. In addition, the scientist are constantly conducting new researches, in order to elaborate new, more powerful cures. With the help of recent discoveries and modern technology, specialists are able to effectively use medications, such as minoxidil, finasteride, corticosteroids or hormonal modulators. What is more, surgeries are also performed. Although hair transplantation is an expensive technique, it has one of the best possible outcome, and at the same time, the risks of side effects are surprisingly low.