For better or for worse, recent events have caused alopecia to become a mainstream buzzword, but not many people know what exactly this condition is and who it impacts. Alopecia means hair loss, and hair loss can occur for many different, unrelated reasons. It is key to figure out what kind of alopecia (hair loss) you have in order to find the best treatment.
One uncommon kind of alopecia that is autoimmune is called alopecia areata. This is an autoimmune disorder that causes sudden hair loss in circles in the scalp. In some cases, this hair loss can also affect a person’s eyebrows, eyelashes, and other areas of the body. For some, alopecia areata causes hair loss in only a few spots, while for others, hair loss is much more severe. This hair loss differs from other forms of hair loss as it is not brought on by aging or outside factors. As an autoimmune disorder, alopecia areata causes a person’s immune system to attack their own body, specifically their hair follicles, causing the hair to fall out.
Another type of alopecia is due to long term chemicals or heat used in the hair over years, as well as genetics. This is called central centrifugal fibrosing alopecia or CCFA. CCFA often affects people who use chemicals or heat to straighten their hair over many years. It often affects the front and crown of the scalp, eventually leading to very thinned patches of hair remaining in this area.
Two other types of hair loss are called frontal fibrosing alopecia and temporal triangular alopecia. In these types of hair loss the hair slowly gets thinned in either the front of the scalp near the forehead or around the temples. Sometimes, the eyebrows also become thinned in these conditions.
There are many other types of alopecia, or hair loss-including genetic, age related hair loss, as well as hair loss due to blood or organ abnormalities. But, we can discuss these and other common causes of hair loss later.
A trained dermatologist is the best medical professional to turn to for diagnosing alopecia because they are not only trained to handle the hair loss of their patients but are also trained to try and figure out what type of hair loss is affecting you. Because the treatment you receive depends on the type of hair loss that is diagnosed by your board certified dermatologist.
After a thorough history, part of your examination can include pulling out and examining hairs under the microscope, biopsying the areas of scalp affected, and also blood sample analysis.
For women with any type of hair loss, baldness has been and is still heavily stigmatized, and can deeply impact their self-esteem, especially for women who are in the public sphere or have a high value of visibility like Jada Pinkett Smith. Although Jada has been very open and honest about her hair loss, she still felt embarrassed and scared of what the condition would do to her outward appearance, as stated on her Red Table Talk podcast. “I was in the shower one day and had just handfuls of hair in my hands and I was just like, ‘Oh, my God, am I going bald?’”
At the Aesthetic and Dermatology Center, we treat hair loss with the medications that directly help the type of hair loss you are suffering from. If you or a loved one notice the symptoms of alopecia, request a consultation with Dr. Lawrence Green at the Aesthetic and Dermatology Center today. Call: (301) 610-0663.
To see Dr. Green in action, visit his Instagram page @dr.lawrencegreen.