What is alopecia?
The alopecia is a medical term for a hair loss leaving the skin partially or completely naked. The pattern baldness , or androgenetic alopecia, is the most common form of alopecia. It affects men especially. Hair loss is a natural phenomenon strongly determined by heredity . Other forms of alopecia can reveal a health problem or be caused by medication, for example.
|In Greek, alôpex means “fox”. Alopecia recalls the significant loss of hair that the fox undergoes each year, in early spring|
Some people choose to start treatments to stimulate regrowth or limit the fall. As hair is culturally associated with seductive power , health and vitality , the treatment of alopecia is of great interest. However, you should know that the result is not always satisfactory. The hair transplant can then be the last resort.
Types of alopecia
Here are the main forms of alopecia and their causes. Although alopecia primarily affects the hair, it can occur on any hairy area of the body.
Baldness or androgenetic alopecia
About one-third of Caucasian men are bald at the age of 30, half by the age of 50, and about 80% from the age of 70. In men, baldness is characterized by a gradual decline in edge of the hair, at the top of the forehead. Sometimes it occurs rather at the top of the head. Baldness can begin as early as the end of adolescence;
Women are less likely to suffer from baldness. At the age of 30, it affects 2% to 5% of women, and nearly 40% at age 70. The female pattern baldness looks different: all of the hair from the top of the skull becomes increasingly sparse. Although it is often reported that hair loss tends to increase after menopause, this is not apparent in the epidemiological studies conducted to date;
|Several studies are underway to better understand the causes of baldness. Heredity seems to have a major influence. In men, baldness is influenced by male sex hormones (androgens), such as testosterone. Testosterone accelerates the life cycle of hair. Over time, these become increasingly thin and short. The hair follicles shrink, then stop being active. It also seems that some types of hair are more influenced by testosterone levels. The causes of baldness in women have been much less studied. Women also produce androgens, but in very small quantities. In some women, baldness may be related to higher androgen levels than the average but the main cause is|
Alopecia can be caused by permanent damage to the scalp due to a disease or infection of the skin (lupus, psoriasis, lichen planus, etc.). Inflammatory reactions that occur in the skin can destroy the hair follicles. Ringworm, a fungal infection of the scalp, is the most common cause of alopecia in children. However, at home, it is regrown in most cases;
Ringworm, a fungal infection of the scalp, is the most common cause of alopecia in children. However, at home, it is regrown in most cases;
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease. It is recognized by the complete fall of hair or hair on small areas of skin. There is sometimes regrowth, but a relapse is still possible months or years later. Universal alopecia (loss of all body hair) is very rare. To learn more, see our page Pelade;
It is a sudden and temporary fall of hair, following a physical or emotional shock, a pregnancy, a surgical operation, a significant loss of weight, a high fever, etc. Up to 30% of the hair prematurely enters the resting phase and then falls. Once the stress is over, the hair follicles return to the active phase. However, it may take a few months;
Very rare, it may be due to the absence of hair roots or an abnormality of the hair shaft. Mutations in the P2RY5 gene may be responsible for one of these inherited forms called hypotrichosis simplex, which begins in childhood in both sexes. This gene would participate in the formation of a receptor that plays a role in the growth of the hair;
Drugs, chemotherapy, etc.
Different situations can trigger hair loss. For example, nutritional deficiencies, an imbalance of the hormonal system, chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatments to treat cancer, drugs (for example, warfarin, an anticoagulant, or lithium, used in the treatment of bipolar disorders).
When to consult?
- If your hair begins to fall by hand or plate, for no apparent reason;
- If you want to experiment with a treatment in order to mask baldness.