Exploring Hair Loss: Understanding the Most Common Hair Disorders
Hair loss is a serious problem that affects both men and women. While it can take many forms, and be caused by many different things, the results are often the same: faltering self-confidence, decreased self-consciousness, reduced quality of life, and stigmatization.
The good news is that hair loss is often treatable. However, finding the right treatment option requires understanding the reason for hair loss in the first place. Below, we will explore the most common hair disorders.
Androgenetic Alopecia (Male Pattern Baldness)
Perhaps the most common of all hair disorders is androgenetic alopecia, or male pattern baldness. However, the name is a bit misleading, as it can affect both men and women. In men, it usually begins above the temples, leading to an M-shaped hairline, which then recedes from front to back. In women, it usually begins with thinning along the part, but often progresses to all-over hair loss.
Hair loss often occurs in a defined pattern (the M-shaped recession of male pattern baldness, or the all-over hair loss of androgenetic alopecia in women, for instance). However, sometimes it can be patchy, with hair thinning in seemingly random areas across the head. As this process increases, it becomes what’s called alopecia totalis (total hair loss from the head) and can even extend to alopecia unversalis (hair loss across the entire body).
While hair loss often occurs due to the effects of hormones in the body, sometimes it happens due to external factors. Traction alopecia is such a condition – repeated pulling, pressure, tugging, and other external forces can cause thinning hair. This is often seen with braids and weaves, but can even be present with the use of clips and barrettes.
Many forms of hair loss are permanent, but not all are. Telogen effluvium is the name given to temporary hair loss caused by significantly stressful situations. The body’s stress reaction causes hair follicles to enter the shedding stage (telogen), but normal growth resumes afterward.
This type of hair loss is sudden and occurs with hair in the active growth stage. It is usually the result of medicine or medical treatments, such as radiation therapy or chemotherapy. While it may be significant, this type of hair loss is usually temporary, with the hair regrowing after the medication or treatment ends.
Finding a Path Toward Treatment
No matter the type of hair disorder, thinning hair can damage your self-esteem and even age your appearance. Thankfully, most hair disorders are treatable. The first step is to have the disorder diagnosed, but that can be challenging.
It is important to work with a leading medical professional who considers all the factors when making a diagnosis, including lifestyle, family history, personal health history, and more. That should be combined with an in-depth study of your scalp and a full assessment of the pattern of hair loss. With an accurate diagnosis, you can begin treatment and find relief from the hair disorder.