Alopecia can be either a partial or complete loss of hair. It usually occurs on the scalp of the head – in patches, but can also affect the entire head and even the entire body.
Here is a simple understanding of hair biology and normal hair development that will help you distinguish between normal and abnormal hair loss.
The hair is consisted of the root and the shaft. Both are anchored into a follicle below the epidermis. A single hair follicle has a long growth phase, which can last from two to six years. Usually more than 80 percent of your hair follicles are involved in this active growing period. The rest percent of hairs are involved in a phase called telogen. This phase lasts about three months. Once this phase is done, the growth phase starts again.
An individual has around 100,000 hairs on their scalp and is supposed to lose between 25 and 100 hairs per day. Any disruption of the hair growth cycle will lead an abnormal hair loss. Alopecia can affect people of both sexes and all ages.
Causes and Symptoms
In children and adolescents, Alopecia may be caused by various factors including trauma to the hair shaft, fungal infections, etc. In adults, it is usually associated to be an autoimmune disorder where the hair follicles are attacked by the immune system.
People with this condition often have patchy hair loss – most commonly on the scalp. The patches of hair loss are often hound or oval, but can also be irregular in shape. Although Alopecia usually affects the scalp of the head, but it can also affect the eyebrows, eyelashes, genital area and even the underarms.
When to visit a doctor
If you think that your hair is fallen more than it is supposed (more them 100 hairs per day for longer than a month) or is becoming significantly thinner, then you should definitely consult a dermatologist. Also, if your scalp shows any signs of infection such as redness, warmth, swelling and tenderness, consulting a doctor is advised.
Since Alopecia can be caused by numerous conditions, a doctor will diagnose the cause of your hair loss based on your medical history, genetics, nutritional condition, hair-care habits, medication intake and physical examination.
The cause of the hair loss is actually what will determine the best treatment. Usually, early treatment is essential in restoring the hair.
A wide variety of treatments is available for Alopecia including medications, lotions, lasers, micro-pigmentation, hair transplants, etc. Your doctor will be able to suggest you the best treatment for your needs.