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Different Types of Hair Loss

We’ve all seen them: the hair loss commercials on television, featuring miracle products to make your lustrous mane return to its former glory.

While it is true that there are many hair loss products on the market today, not all of them are effective for the type of hair loss one may be experiencing. Not all hair loss has the same cause, so it only stands to reason that not all types of hair loss will require the same product.

So what are the different types of hair loss?

Androgenetic Alopecia: This is the most common type of hair loss, often referred to as “male pattern baldness.” While it mainly affects men, women also can suffer from this kind of hair loss. Androgenetic Alopecia is caused by a combination of genetics and hormones. In this type of hair loss, the hair follicle – which is necessary for producing new hair growth – shrinks and ceases hair production. This type of baldness generally starts at the hairline and recedes. The hair will become shorter, thinner and finer on the top and sides of the head.

Telogen Effluvium: This type of hair loss is the second-most common experienced by both men and women. It is characterized by hair shedding in several areas that does not follow a specific pattern. It also tends to start suddenly and without any prior warning. This kind of hair loss often is the result of a metabolic dysfunction, hormonal stress or from using certain medications. Once the cause of the hair loss is determined, recovery can begin by simply correcting the stressor which has lead to the hair loss. If a particular medication is the cause, then the patient likely will be removed from that medication. Hair regrowth should occur within six months.

Anagen Effluvium: This kind of hair loss is very similar to telogen effluvium, except that it generally results in the loss of all hair, not just patches here or there. Anagen effluvium is most commonly suffered by those who are receiving relief for various forms of cancer, including chemotherapy and certain kinds of drug cocktails designed to kill cancer cells. Another reason for this kind of hair loss would be the ingestion of a toxic substance. Although the onset of anagen effluvium is quite rapid, so is the recovery time once the substance which is causing the hair loss is removed from a person’s system. In the case of a cancer patient who is taking cancer medication, hair will begin to regrow within a few weeks of stopping use of the medication.

Alopecia Areata: A person’s risk for developing this kind of hair loss – believed to be the third most common suffered – is almost 2 percent over the course of their lifetime. It is believed that alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder in which a person’s own immune system attacks hair follicles, causing existing hair to fall out and no new hair to grow. There are a number of products for this kind of hair loss, including the use of corticosteroid steroids; however, not all options are effective in curing this kind of baldness.

Scarring Alopecia: Up to 3 percent of all hair-loss patients suffer from this type of hair loss. A person suffering from this kind of hair loss has his own hair follicles destroyed and replaced by scar tissue, which prevents the growth of new hair. Depending on the cause of scarring alopecia (there are several), sometimes a product is ineffective, and the baldness is permanent. For the types which can be handled, it usually is done so with antibiotics and istretinoin drugs.

Congenital Hypotrichosis: This type of hair loss cannot truly be described as hair loss, since its sufferers never had hair growth to start. This type of hair loss generally affects a person at birth and usually stays with them for the length of their lives. The majority of cases of this kind of hair loss are caused by genetic defects.

Infection: Sometimes hair loss can be caused by an infection, such as ringworm. It also can be caused by various fungi and viruses, which often are easily dealt with. Once the infectious source is identified and handled, hair regrows.

Defective Hair Shafts: A final cause of hair loss can be a defect with a person’s hair shaft. This damage can be caused by genetics, something in the environment, or inappropriate hair care. This kind of hair loss can’t always be reversed.

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