Alopecia is really a phrase that simply means ‘hair loss.’ Any type of hair loss you can have can loosely be defined as Alopecia. The word comes from ancient Greece where it is known as Fox’s disease. This is because foxes would shed their fur twice a year.
Alopecia Areata is a term that is used for hair that can fall out and regrow, and fall out and regrow again sometimes multiple times throughout the year or even lifetime.
Three Types of Alopecia
There are three different types or classification of Alopecia.
1. Androgenetic Alopeca: This is a genetic type of hair loss. As we age, our bodies start to shrink our hair follicles and this is when you notice your hair is thinning. It happens on the top of your head and also on the side for women. As the follicles shrink the size the hair becomes finer in texture, fluffy in nature and generally very annoying. You can also see much more of your scalp than you used to. This type of alopecia can be inherited from your parents, grand-parents. These days we are finding that hair loss in women can also be triggered by medications like the contraceptive pill due to the hormonal nature of this type of hair loss. This type of hair loss affects over 80% of all people that experience hair loss.
2. Alopecia Areata: This is an autoimmune form of hair loss. If you have this type of alopecia you will first notice 10 or 20 pieces of hair loss forming over the scalp, arms or legs. The hair loss happens because the immune system attacks the hair follicles and causes them to stop working, at least for a while. Most people will have their hair grow back but this doesn’t happen for everyone.
In the category of Alopecia Areata there are three different degrees of alopecia:
Alopecia Areata – usually refers to the the ‘spots’ or ‘patches’ of hair loss.
Alopecia Totalis – refers to when a person has lost their hair all over their head but not their body.
Alopecia Universalis – refers to hair loss all over a persons head and body. It is ‘universal’ over their entire being.
For people with hair loss in the latter two stages we would recommend a Gripper wig. You can find more information about it here!
3. Diffuse Hair Loss or Telogen Effluvium: This is know more as a stress related hair loss. It is often triggered by having a physical shock to the body. This could be a surgical operation, an auto accident, the start or stopping of medications. An extreme form of telogen effluvium can be medically induced through chemotherapy. Even an emotional shock like a relationship breakup, divorce, or death of a loved one can cause this type of hair loss. Most people that go through diffuse hair loss don’t lose all their hair. The hair will appear to be significantly thinner and lots of hair may come out all at once.
It usually takes about three months for hair loss to occur after an event. If you think back three months prior to your hair loss you may discover the event that caused it. There is good new though, it usually grows back once your body has recovered from the shock that caused the hair loss. It doesn’t grow back overnight but in time it will happen for about 90% of the people that suffer this type of hair loss.