Hair Loss

Alopecia or hair loss presents in many different forms and is a very common condition that many people encounter with androgenetic alopecia and alopecia areata being a couple of examples of some of the most commonly encountered forms of hair loss. Causes of alopecia can include hormonal and genetic factors. It is commonly believed that hair loss is caused by factors such as poor diet, alcohol consumption, wearing hats and smoking cigarettes but evidence for these causes is lacking.

a) Androgenic alopecia or “male/female pattern baldness” affects men and women differently. Generally men initially lose hair from the hair line in a recessive fashion at the temples followed by thinning and eventually a bald spot at the top of the head. Hair around the ears and back of the head is usually preserved. Thinning hair is seen as such a common part of male ageing that it is often dismissed as being “normal ”, with many men deciding not to get treatment. However, there are many treatment options available.

Although not as commonly seen in women, many women still suffer with this condition. Androgenic alopecia affects about 20% of women over the age of 55. The main symptom of female-pattern baldness is thinning over the entire scalp with it more noticeable on the crown.

b) Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder that has affected approximately 147 million people globally. It affects both women and men, and often first presents in childhood. The predominant symptom observed is small, round bald patches. Hair loss may or may not be permanent with some patients reporting hair regrowth in areas where they previously experienced hair loss.

c) Telogen effluvium is a scalp disorder characterised by sudden onset thinning and shedding of hair from the early entry of the hair into the “telogen phase” or the “resting phase” of the hair follicle. It affects predominately women and is caused by many different factors including: certain medications, iron-deficiency, childbirth, anaemia, emotional disorders, eating disorders, stress, major surgery, illness, and malnutrition. All hair is never lost and thinning is generally quite pronounced and widespread across the entire scalp.

Majority of treatment for forms of alopecia and effluvium are topical and persistent in nature. By having treatment custom made, many problems (such as greasiness, shininess, dripping and skin irritation) associated with commonly used treatments can be avoided thus leading to increased patient compliance.


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