Hair loss can occur as a result of aging, heredity, medications or an underlying medical condition, and can affect men and women of all ages. It may leave you with pattern baldness, patchy spots or thinned hair. Most people are troubled by this undesired change to their appearance and may be frustrated that there is no cure available for this condition.
Androgenic Alopecia (AA) is a common form of incurable hair loss that occurs in many males and some females. Also known as Male Pattern Baldness, the disorder causes men to lose their hair in a characteristic manner, with the hairline receding into a sort of "M" shape across the forehead while hair along the crown thins out. In Female Pattern Baldness, there is no recession of the hairline, but a thinning of all hair equally. In addition, female AA rarely causes total baldness.
Alopecia areata is a common autoimmune disease that causes a person's hair to fall out as the immune system attacks the hair follicles. Hair often falls out in clumps and can be maintained in a small area or may lead to severe hair loss.
While many people are forced to deal with hair loss and let the condition progress naturally, there are several treatments available to help promote hair growth or hide hair loss. The best treatment option for each patient depends on the location and extent of the hair loss, but may include hair growth medications, wigs and hairpieces, and hair transplant or scalp reduction surgery.
Topical medications such as Minoxidil are effective in both men and women, while the more hormone-based Finasteride is used almost exclusively by men. Although not yet approved by the FDA for hair loss prevention, Ketoconazole (found in NizoralTM), Dutasteride (AvodartTM), and Spironolactone are well known to reduce dihydrotestosterone levels, which has been heavily correlated with hair loss.
What are the symptoms?
- Hair loss on the scalp and other areas of the body
- Itching as the hair regrows
- Uneven regrowth of hair
Who gets it?
Anyone can be affected by alopecia areata, and nearly 2% of the American population will develop the disease at some point. Some people may have an increased risk if they have a family history of the disease or of other autoimmune disorders such as diabetes or lupus. Children and young adults are also commonly affected.
How is it treated?
Although alopecia areata cannot be cured, there are several treatment options available to help promote new hair growth and prevent further hair loss. Corticosteroids are often used to treat autoimmune diseases and may be administered as injections, pills or topical ointment to suppress the immune system from attacking the hair follicles.
Rogaine and other hair growth products can be used to help stimulate hair growth from areas that have been affected. A combination of these treatment options may improve their effectiveness, but there is no guaranteed treatment for alopecia areata.
The most effective treatment options for hair loss usually include surgical hair transplantation that moves areas of full, healthy hair to the affected location in order to restore a natural appearance to the head and help men and women regain self-confidence about they way they look. These procedures have been performed successfully for many years with minimal downtime and little to no damage to surrounding hair follicles.