Androgenetic alopecia – also called pattern baldness – is by far the most common cause of hair loss in men and women alike. But it is far from the only reason your hair may be thinning or falling out. Millions of Americans suffer from hair loss caused by other forms of alopecia every year. While each type of alopecia has its own causes and impacts, they all lead to the same disappointing and embarrassing issues inherent with losing your hair.
Here is what you need to know about some of the most common types of alopecia.
If your hair is thinning or falling out, the odds are pretty good that androgenetic alopecia is the culprit. Over 95% of hair loss cases are related to this hereditary hair loss condition that affects over three million Americans annually. Androgenetic alopecia causes hair miniaturization, where hair becomes thinner and finer each time it goes through the growth cycle. Eventually, these hairs cease to grow entirely and fall out.
Men are more likely to experience and notice androgenetic alopecia earlier than women, with 25 percent of American males seeing symptoms before age 21, approximately 66 percent of men showing some degree of loss by the age of 35, and 85 percent of men see significant thinning by age 50. Most women, however, do not notice or see any signs of thinning or balding hair until the age of 50 or 60.
This hair loss condition is caused by a direct attack on hair follicles by your own immune system and white blood cells. This assault causes the follicles to shrink and subsequently slow down hair production. In turn, this leads to sudden hair loss in quarter-sized patches which can progress across the scalp rapidly and unpredictably.
More extreme versions of the condition include alopecia totalis (Complete loss of hair on the scalp) and alopecia universalis (total loss of hair on the scalp and body). Hair follicles are not destroyed by alopecia areata and can typically regrow as soon as the inflammation dwindles.
Though not as common as androgenetic alopecia, which is the culprit in the vast majority of male pattern baldness cases, alopecia areata still affects two percent of Americans or roughly 6.8 million people. Unlike hereditary hair loss, which generally manifests later in life, alopecia areata typically occurs before the age of 30 and can sometimes be seen in children as young as two years old.
Researchers haven’t yet figured out the specific reason why the immune system would suddenly turn on hair follicles. However, there appears to be a strong genetic connection. Several studies have found that alopecia areata is far more common (1 out of 5) in people who have a close family member with the condition.
If you apply constant tension to your hair follicles, they will eventually experience damage, weaken, and ultimately die and fall out. This is called traction alopecia.
The five primary causes of traction alopecia are:
- Wearing unnecessarily tight pigtails, ponytails, or braids for extended periods.
- Trichotillomania, a psychological disorder characterized by constant (and often unconscious) hair twisting, plucking, or pulling.
- Hairstyles that require hair to be tightly wound for a prolonged period.
- Hairpieces and weaves that must be affixed/clipped to the hair.
- Helmets, particularly compression-helmets like those worn while playing football, snowboarding, skiing, horseback riding, etc.
No Matter The Reason Behind Your Hair Loss, The Miami Hair Institute Can Help
At the Miami Hair Institute, our world-renowned hair restoration physicians diagnose and treat hair loss cases no matter what the underlying cause. Through advanced hair restoration surgical techniques, technology, and alternative non-invasive treatments, we can help patients suffering from hair loss regain their hair and self-confidence.
To receive your personalized evaluation and treatment plan, contact us online or call our office directly at 305-925-0222.