What is alopecia?

Alopecia is hereditary hair loss, sometimes called male or female pattern baldness, or androgenetic alopecia, and can often be treated successfully.
It’s normal to lose hairs daily, but if you see balding patches or increased thinning, you may be experiencing hair loss. Peope can see their hair re-grow without intervention, while others will need treatment. Most causes of hair loss can be stopped or treated. Hereditary thinning or baldness is often accompanied in men by bald patches on the top of the head and a receding hairline. Women, on the other hand, tend to keep their hairline, but notice a widening part and thinning. Anyone troubled by hair loss should see a Dermatology of Seattle dermatologist.



What causes alopecia?

Some medical treatments and diseases can cause alopecia. How you style and care for your hair can contribute hair loss as well, but the most common cause is hereditary hair loss.Women sometimes notice it after childbirth, and people under stress may experience loss. the cause may be illness, diet or medicine, especially when loss begins suddenly.Gradual hair loss over many years may be hereditary.Iron deficiency and high-dose vitamin A, anorexia, bulimia, birth control pills, prescription medicines for blood thinning, arthritis, depression, gout, heart problems, and high blood pressure, anabolic steroids can cause and contribute to hair loss. Certain hair care practices also can cause alopecia. Too much shampooing, combing, or brushing, for example.

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Types of alopecia:
  • Alopecia areata: this is an autoimmune condition, meaning the body attacks itself, although the patient may be in otherwise good health.
  • Cicatricial alopecia: Scars form where the follicles once were, and the hair cannot grow back.
  • Central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia: The hair loss circles out from the center of the scalp.
  • Various diseases can cause alopecia: Anemia, thyroid disease, for example. Even the flu, high fever, or a severe infection can cause the disease, as well as major surgeries, or parasites like scalp ringworm.
    Radiation therapy and chemotherapy can cause temporary hair loss.
How is alopecia diagnosed?

Your dermatologist at Dermatology of Seattle will need accurate information, and will ask questions regarding your hair loss. Whether or not it happened gradually or suddenly, you take medication or have allergies, or have been dieting. Women may be asked about periods, pregnancies, and menopause. The dermatologist also will examine your scalp and may pull out a hair, and examine hair elsewhere on the body. A scalp biopsy and a blood test may be necessary.

How do dermatologists treat hair loss?
  • Minoxidil: Sometimes combined with other treatments, this is applied to the scalp.
  • Laser devices: laser light may stimulate growth.
  • Finasteride: this medicine comes in pill form and helps slow loss, and stimulates growth in most men. It helps by stopping the production off a male hormone, dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
  • Corticosteroid: different than an anabolic steroid, this can help stop inflammation which occurs when a patient is afflicted by alopecia areata.
  • Hair transplantation: scalp with good growth is removed and transplanted to needed areas.