Alopecia refers to hair loss in areas of skin that normally have hair. There are two forms of alopecia: scarring and non-scarring.
Scarring is the loss of hair follicles. This form causes permanent hair loss. The most prevalent forms of scarring alopecia are:
In the case of non-scarring alopecia, the hair shaft is gone, but the follicles are still present. This form is often reversible. It can also develop into scarring alopecia. Non-scarring types include:
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Many things can cause alopecia, including:
Factors that increase your chance of alopecia include:
Alopecia symptoms depend on the type of hair loss. Some of the more common symptoms include:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history and perform a physical exam. The doctor will examine the location of hair loss, noting the pattern of hair loss and condition of the scalp.
This physical exam may include:
The doctor will ask questions about:
Other tests may include:
Treatment will depend on the cause of the condition. Treatments include:
To treat related conditions:
Direct treatment for baldness:
Be gentle with your hair. Avoid pulling it tightly. If pulled over a long period of time, scarring can occur. Permanent hair loss is also possible.
If treatment does not correct the hair loss, you may opt for a wig, hairpiece, or hair weaving.
If emotional stress is the cause, learn and practice stress-management techniques.
This can involve:
There are no prevention guidelines for the most common type of hair loss: male-pattern baldness. However, the following tips may help you avoid other types of hair loss:
American Academy of Dermatology
National Alopecia Areata Foundation
Alopecia areata. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/. Updated September 4, 2012. Accessed October 31, 2012.
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Last reviewed October 2012 by Purvee S. Shah, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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