Alopecia: a Fancy Name for Hair Loss

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Alopecia means "baldness"; hair loss from skin areas where hair would normally be present. The word alopecia comes from the Greek word for fox, which is "alopex." This term was used presumably because the condition caused the sufferer to have the appearance of a fox with mange.

There is more than one type of alopecia and treatments depend on which type of alopecia is diagnosed. The following is a summary of the appearance, causes, and treatments for alopecia:

ANDROGENETIC ALOPECIA:

Androgenetic alopecia is also known as male pattern baldness. This type of alopecia is a progressive loss of scalp hair. The hair loss is symmetric, that is, the same of both sides of the head. The cause of androgenetic alopecia is a combination of both heredity and hormones.

ALOPECIA AREATA:

Alopecia areata describes hair loss in clearly defined areas or patches. These typically circular-shaped patches can occur anywhere on the body, but are most common on the scalp or beard. The patches are usually about the size of a quarter. The disease can cause a small few patches, or many larger patches to occur. Alopecia is considered to be an autoimmune disease and has a genetic component. In the case of alopecia areata, the body's immune system mistakenly attacks the hair follicles; the tiny sacs in which hair grows.

CICATRICIAL ALOPECIA:

Cicatricial alopecia is divided into primary or secondary types. Primary cicatricial alopecia refers to a group of disorders that destroy the hair follicle and replace it with scar tissue. These disorders are rare. In some cases, hair loss can be gradual, without symptoms, and may go unnoticed for long periods of time. In other cases, hair is lost quickly and is accompanied by itching, burning, and pain. The scalp may show little signs of inflammation, or it can have scaling, redness, and pus, and may be darker or lighter in color. The inflammation that destroys the follicle is under the skin surface so there is usually no visible scarring on the scalp.

In secondary cicatricial alopecias, the cause of hair follicle destruction is due to some external cause such as injury, burns, radiation, severe infection, or tumors. For both primary and secondary types of cicatricial alopecia, hair loss is permanent.

TRACTION ALOPECIA:

Traction alopecia is hair loss resulting from the hair being pulled from the follicle, usually as a result of some hairstyles, or even from habitual twisting or pulling on one's own hair.

ALOPECIA TOTALIS:

In Alopecia totalis, the scalp is left entirely without hair.

ALOPECIA UNIVERSALIS:

In Alopecia universalis, all body hair is lost, including the scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows, underarms, and pubis.

CURES FOR ALOPECIA AREATA:

There is no cure for alopecia areata, although sometimes the hair will grow back on its own for unknown reasons.

TREATMENT OF ALOPECIA AREATA:

Current treatments cannot actually stop alopecia. The treatments are targeted at attempting to stimulate the follicle to produce hair again. The choice of treatment recommended depends on age and amount of hair loss. The various treatments are most effective in milder cases of alopecia and no treatments have been shown to be universally effective.

CORTISONE INJECTIONS:

Cortisone is injected into the bare skin patches on a monthly basis. It takes about one month to know if any new hair will grow or not. This treatment will not prevent new patches of hair loss from developing.

CORTISONE PILLS:

Cortisone pills can be used for severe scalp hair loss. Cortisone pills are much stronger than cortisone injections and therefore have side effects that are more serious. If any hair is regrown, it is likely to fall out when the cortisone pills are stopped

TOPICAL MINOXIDIL:

Five percent topical minoxidil solution used twice a day may help hair growth on the scalp, eyebrows, and beard. Two percent topical minoxidil solution alone has not proven effective in alopecia areata. Sometimes a combination of cortisone cream and minoxidil is used. Minoxidil is not effective for treatment of total scalp hair loss.

ANTHRALIN CREAM OR OINTMENT:

Anthralin is a chemical used to treat psoriasis. Anthralin is applied to the bare patches once a day and is washed off after 30 to 60 minutes. Anthralin can irritate the skin, so the user must be careful to avoid getting anthralin near mucous membranes or in skin folds.

TOPICAL IMMUNOTHERAPY:

Topical immunotherapy involves applying chemicals to the scalp to produce an allergic rash; this rash resembles poison oak or poison ivy. These treatments have been used in Canada and Europe but are not widely available in the United States.

LASER THERAPY:

Laser therapy is used in combination with Minoxidil, DHT Blockers. The theory behind the three-pronged approach is as follows: The Laser is used to stimulate the hair follicle, Minoxodil is used for increasing blood flow to the follicle, and the DHT Blocker is used to reduce levels of the hair-destroying DHT hormone. Follicle detoxifiers and rejuvenators may also be used in laser therapy.

HAIR REPLACEMENT:
Hair Replacement is an important option for some hair loss sufferers, especially those experiencing alopecia totalis and alopecia universalis. Modern custom-made Hair Systems are a far cry from the old generation of hot, uncomfortable, and unflattering wigs. Custom Hair Systems such as the White Cliffs Mayfair are light and hygienic, and give the hair loss sufferer a front hairline.

Researching the many hair loss treatment options and discussing those treatments with one's health advisor will ensure the best outcome for hair loss sufferers.

For more information about Hair replacement and Hair systems please visit http://www.whitecliffsgroup.com



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