We all experience some degree of hair loss as we age. But some people start shedding hairs quite early, without any apparent reason. But this does not mean that there is really no reason behind your hair fall. Hair loss or baldness in itself is not a condition; rather it is an indication of some underlying problem. There are several causes of hair loss, including heredity and hormones, unhealthy diet, poor hair handling, certain medical conditions and medications. Whatever may be causing you to shed hair, there is one medical term used to describe the condition and that is Alopecia.

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There are numerous types and patterns of alopecia, depending upon what exactly is causing a person to lose hair. Some most common alopecia types and their causes are listed below. Continue reading to know what exactly is causing you to shed hair and the severity of the problem:

Androgenic Alopecia

This is the most common type of hair loss in men and women affecting up to 70% of men and over 40% of women at some stage in their lifetimes. Also known as Male Pattern Baldness (when affecting men) and Female Pattern Baldness (when affecting women), androgenic alopecia is caused by the effect of both heredity and hormones. This type of hair loss exhibits a typical pattern in women, with a clearly receded hairline and thinning crown area. Women, however, experience generalized hair thinning all over the scalp.

Traction Alopecia

This is probably the third most common type of hair loss after Androgenic Alopecia and Telogen Effluvium. It usually occurs as a result of hairstyles that require tying up hairs tightly, such as tight braids, ponytails and buns. Traction alopecia is most common in African-American women courtesy their peculiar hairstyles like cornrows, dreadlocks, chignons and twists. Wearing tight hairstyles put constant pressure on the hair strands as well as the follicles. This ultimately damages the follicles, affecting their ability to grow hair.

Telogen Effluvium

It is a type of alopecia that has the highest ratio after pattern hair loss. It is often characterized by a sudden loss of hair due to an interruption caused to the normal hair growth cycle. There are a number of factors that can interrupt the hair growth cycle, but stress (both physical and emotional) leads the list. Other common causes include severe illness, major operation, high fever, nutritional deficiencies, crash diet, pregnancy and childbirth. It causes generalized hair thinning over entire scalp, with the top of the head showing maximum effect.

Alopecia Areata

Another quite common type of hair loss, affecting both kids and adults, Alopecia Areata is an autoimmune disease that is believed to be caused by both genetic factors as well as severe stress. This type of hair loss tends to occur in small, round bald patches, that usually appear on scalp but it can affect other areas with hair as well, such as beard, mustaches, eyebrows and eyelashes. In severe case, the sufferer sheds hairs all over the body, but this quite rare.

Treatment of Alopecia

All types of alopecia, except pattern hair loss, are mostly temporary and hair regrows automatically as soon as the trigger is removed. Sometimes, medication may also be needed to stimulate hair growth, but that is also for a brief period of time.

Androgenic Alopecia, however, is a relatively permanent form of hair loss and rarely reverses without any medical treatment. While there are a number of FDA-approved medications (topical and oral), none of them offers permanent relief, except a hair transplant surgery. The surgery involves redistribution of healthy, balding resistant hair follicles over the entire scalp to add a fuller look.

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