Proper diagnosis is essential for effective Hair Loss Treatment
Hair loss is a universal occurrence and has a high cosmetic impact on the affected individuals. It is depressing for the sufferer and a headache for the physician, because, except in a few instances, finding the exact cause of the hair loss remains a mirage.
Shedding of hair is known as effluvium or defluvium and the resulting condition is known as alopecia (Greek alopekia for baldness) or hair loss.
Hair Loss Causes
Causes for hair loss or alopecia may be classified into two major types: scarring and non-scarring alopecia.
In scarring or cicatricial alopecia, there is sign of tissue damage like inflammation, atrophy and scarring in the hair loss area. The hair loss is permanent.
Noncicatricial or nonscarring alopecia is the commonest type, shows a normal skin structure with loss of hair and usually is amenable to treatment. Nonscarring hair loss can either be diffuse or localized depending upon the extend of involvement.
Diffuse Non-scarring Hair Loss Causes
In diffuse non-scarring alopecia, hair loss is disseminated throughout the scalp, and, at times, on the body as well. These are caused by
- Failure of hair follicle production due to hormonal and genetic reasons, as in male pattern baldness (the common baldness),
- Hair shaft abnormalities, as in chemical damage due to hair straighteners.
- Abnormalities in hair cycling, as seen in telogen effluvium, anagen effluvium, loose anagen syndrome or generalized alopecia areata. Abnormalities of hair cycling occur usually following a prolonged illness, pregnancy, stress and nutritional deficiencies including anemia and vitamin deficiencies.
Focal or Localized Non-scarring Hair Loss Causes
Focal, patchy or localized non-scarring alopecia may be caused by
- Hair follicle production decline as in focal male pattern hair loss.
- Hair breakage: Trichotillomania, traction alopecia, tinea capitis, hair straighteners etc.
- Abnormal hair cycling: Alopecia areata, secondary syphilis.
Scarring Alopecia Causes
Cicatricial or scarring alopecia may cause hair loss in many hereditary and acquired disorders of the hair and hair follicle.
- Hereditary diseases: Defective development of hair follicles and skin, as in aplasia cutis, darier’s disease.
- Traumatic: Chemical and mechanical, as in burns
- Neoplastic: Basal cell carcinoma
- Follicular inflammation: Discoid lupus erythematosus, tinea capitis
- Dermal Inflammation leading to secondary damage to hair follicle, as in morphea, skin tuberculosis, lichen planopilaris etc
From the above short review of causes of hair loss, it is evident that a correct diagnosis is essential for effective treatment of alopecia.
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Published by Dr Hanish Babu, MD on 5th June, 2018
The information given in this article is for educational purpose only so that patients are aware of the options available. No diagnosis should be made or treatment undertaken without first consulting your doctor. If you do so, the author or the website will not be responsible for any consequences. The images provided are for illustration purpose only and are copyrighted.
Copyright 2018 © Dr Hanish Babu, MD
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