Everything you need to know about alopecia or circular hair loss
Alopecia can occur at any stage of life. The main risk factors are heredity, environmental influences, and diseases that directly or indirectly affect hair loss.
What is alopecia?
Alopecia, also known as circular hair loss, is an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss. Hair often falls out in circles and forms bald patches on the scalp.
The body starts attacking its hair follicles, causing hair to fall out. Hair loss varies from person to person, with some people losing only a few hairs and others losing a lot of hair. Sometimes hair grows back, sometimes it doesn't.
There are several types of alopecia, the most common is the main form alopecia areata. Other rarer forms include:
- alopecia areata totalis, which is the loss of all the hair on the head,
- alopecia areata universalis, which means hair loss all over the body,
- diffuse alopecia areata, which is a sudden thinning of hair rather than hair loss,
- and alopecia areata, which causes hair loss in the form of a band at the sides and back of the head.
When does alopecia occur and what are the risk factors?
Alopecia can occur at any time in life. The main risk factors are heredity, environmental influences, and diseases that directly or indirectly affect hair loss. Most forms of alopecia are not predictable and cannot be prevented, as the causes are often unknown.
Male pattern baldness, androgenetic alopecia, is mainly hereditary and occurs slowly and progressively. It also occurs in women, but not in the same form. Serious illnesses and treatments, such as cancer treatment, can cause hair loss by destroying hair follicles.
Certain medications such as anticoagulants, drugs to treat high blood pressure, hormones, and painkillers can cause hair loss. Low iron levels or vitamin H deficiency can also cause hair loss.
Symptoms and signs of alopecia
Hair loss can occur in different ways depending on the cause. It can occur suddenly or gradually and affect the scalp only or the whole body.
Signs and symptoms of hair loss may include:
1. Gradual thinning of the hair on the top of the head
This is the most common type of hair loss that affects people with age. In men, hair often starts to recede at the hairline on the forehead. In women, part of the hair usually spreads. An increasingly common pattern of hair loss in older women is the recession of the hairline.
2. Scales spreading over the scalp
This is a sign of ringworm. It may be accompanied by hair breakage, redness, swelling, and sometimes discharge
3. Round or irregular patches of baldness
Some people experience hair loss in the form of circular or irregular bald patches on the scalp, chin, or eyebrows. Hair loss may be preceded by itchy or painful skin.
4. Hair loss all over the body
Some conditions and treatments, such as chemotherapy for cancer, can cause hair loss all over the body. Hair usually grows back.
5. Sudden hair loss
Hair may fall out as a result of physical or emotional shock. A handful of hair may fall out while combing or washing the hair, or even after gentle tugging. This type of hair loss usually causes a general thinning of the hair, but it is temporary.
Androgenetic alopecia affects 80% of men up to 70 years of age
Androgenetic alopecia, more commonly known as male pattern baldness, is a form of alopecia that is linked to hereditary factors and the hormonal sensitivity of the hair follicles. It affects men and is characterized by thinning of the hair on the forehead and crown of the head, leading to progressive hair loss.
According to statistics, male pattern baldness occurs in about 50% of men after the age of 50. The course of the disease is slow and progressive.
It starts with thinning of hair in certain areas of the scalp, which gradually spreads and leads to hair loss. In some cases, it can occur in other areas of the body, such as the mustache and eyebrows.
Alopecia - How to help yourself?
There are different treatments for alopecia, depending on the type and severity of the condition. Some common treatments for alopecia include:
- Topical therapy: Minoxidil and finasteride are medicines that are used outside the body and applied to the scalp. Minoxidil is used to treat male and female pattern baldness, while finasteride is used to treat male pattern baldness.
- Injections: corticosteroids can be injected into the scalp to reduce inflammation and prevent hair loss.
- Systemic therapy: Systemic drugs such as methotrexate, cyclosporine, and azathioprine can be used for alopecia areata and are taken orally or intravenously.
- Hair transplantation: This method of treatment is used to restore hair in bald areas.
- Phototherapy: UV light is used to reduce inflammation and improve hair growth.
Some people may also be helped by folk methods such as folk treatments, onion juice, aloe vera, honey, nettle, and others, but there is no evidence of the effectiveness of these methods, so check with your doctor before using them.
As hair loss can be caused by a variety of factors, it is important to consult a doctor to determine the cause and appropriate treatment. For the overall strengthening of the hair and scalp, a good diet that includes all the necessary vitamins and minerals is essential.
General hair care tips
Healthy, strong, and shiny hair is everyone's wish. Heredity plays a key role in the kind of ''headdress'' we will boast about. While we can't control it, we can help our hair by living a healthy lifestyle and taking the right care.
1. Take water temperature into account: Wash and rinse your hair with lukewarm or preferably cool water. Washing hair with hot water can dry out the scalp and strip the hair of its natural oils, which can cause dryness and breakage.
2. Regular haircuts: get a haircut every 6 to 8 weeks to reduce breakage and split ends.
3. Regulate your diet: also nourish your hair by eating the right foods. A diet rich in essential nutrients such as protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins A, B12, C, and E, vitamin D, and zinc will support scalp health and hair growth.
4. Scalp massage: Massage the scalp regularly to stimulate blood circulation and refresh the roots. Combine with a scalp treatment to nourish the scalp with nutrients. This will be especially beneficial if you have a dry scalp.
5. Limit the use of heat tools: We all know that heat tools can damage hair, no matter how much heat protectant you use. If you use heated tools to style your hair, choose tools with different temperature settings so you can style them at lower temperatures.