Hair loss is simply the partial or complete absence of hair from areas on the body where it normally grows. Hair loss is medically known as alopecia and can also be referred to as baldness. Alopecia can affect both men and women of all ages. There are many different types of alopecia with many different causes and symptoms.
The most common cause of hair loss is male-pattern baldness (androgenic alopecia). This type of hair loss is hereditary and will affect around 50% of all men by the age of 50. Male-pattern baldness is characterised as a receding hairline accompanied by thinning of the hair on the temples and crown.
Male-pattern baldness is caused by sensitivity of the hair follicles to the hormone testosterone. With exposure to testosterone the hair follicles eventually shrink and stop functioning. Male-pattern baldness is normally genetic and is not a sign of disease or ill health. Hair loss in men can be effectively treated, with a number of treatment options available including medicinal and surgical options.
Female-pattern baldness is much less common and is usually characterised by the thinning of hair on top of the head. Female-pattern baldness generally has less treatment options than male-pattern baldness, although it can still be effectively treated.
Other types of hair loss include:
- Alopecia areata: This form of hair loss can occur at any age but is far more prevalent amongst teenagers and young adults. It is estimated that six out of every ten people affected will experience their first bout of alopecia areata before they reach the age of twenty. Alopecia areata will present as patches of baldness that can come and go. It is thought to be caused by a problem with the immune system.
- Scarring alopecia: This can also be referred to as cicatricial alopecia. Scarring Alopecia is usually the result of another condition, such as lichen planus or discoid lupus. Scarring alopecia involves the hair follicle being completely destroyed meaning the hair will not grow back
- Anagen effluvium: This form of hair loss can affect the whole body. It is most commonly caused by chemotherapy.
The Independent Pharmacy cannot treat these additional types of hair loss; they require specialist treatment.