While the term alopecia refers to abnormal hair loss in general, it is quite a broad term due to the many different forms of the disease. The most common is androgenic alopecia, also known as male or female pattern baldness. This is an inherited form of permanent hair loss from the scalp, which causes baldness and the thinning of hair.
While unfortunate, and for some, inevitable, it typically affects most people later in age. The hair loss pattern differs between men and women. Men afflicted by androgenic alopecia usually experience hair thinning at the top and front of the head. Women may notice thinning at the center hair part, but the hairline may not be affected.
Another well-known type of this disease is called alopecia areata. This is a common autoimmune disorder that causes the immune system to attack hair follicles. It causes unpredictable hair loss that starts with numerous bald patches and can cause complete baldness. Alopecia areata, unlike male or female pattern baldness, does not have a typical age at which an affected individual experiences this hair loss. The signs of alopecia areata can show up in children, teenagers, or adults, and these people will live with it for their entire lives.
No cure exists for either form of the disease. Still, there are treatment options available, as well as cosmetic solutions to restore confidence and maintain the hair’s natural thickness and texture.
For androgenic alopecia, a vasodilator (a medication that dilates blood vessels in the scalp), is often prescribed by dermatologists in an attempt to stimulate hair growth. It similar to the effect of laser hair therapy, but it is not a miracle treatment. Not all suffering from male or female pattern baldness observe improvements when using this type of medication. The cosmetic route is common in these cases due to the lack of effective medication or cure.
For alopecia areata, the use of corticosteroids has seen some success in suppressing the immune system, effectively slowing hair loss in those affected. These are administered through local injections, orally, or with a topical ointment. Other immunosuppressive drugs are also used to manage this disease, but again, there is no cure.
Hair loss from any disease can have an overall negative effect on your health. Many also refer to it as a traumatic disease that one must learn to adapt to emotionally. The emotional aspects of hair loss warrant treatment, just like the medical aspects. Especially if the hair loss begins at an early age, learning to gain confidence can be near impossible for some. Those who cannot be sufficiently treated by medicine often turn to cosmetic options to replicate the look of a healthy scalp because of the variety of available solutions. Wigs are best for baldness rather than hair thinning, such as someone with advanced alopecia areata. Hair transplants are great as a more permanent option for those with thinning hair. Other non-surgical options include hairpieces, the micro point link technique, or permagraft. All of which can help achieve realistic, healthy hair that covers the scalp and blends in to thicken those thinning or bald areas.