Alopecia refers to hair loss from the head or anywhere on the body, and there are several conditions and variations that cause this to happen. If you are experiencing unusual hair loss, contact Dr. Lina Naga and Dr. Terrence Keaney of SkinDC in Washington DC, for an appointment to diagnose the causes behind your condition.
One type of hair loss, called alopecia areata, stems from an autoimmune disorder that causes hair loss on the face and scalp and occasionally other parts of the body. Affecting nearly 7 million Americans, it may affect any ethnic group, either gender, as well as people of all ages. Often appearing in childhood, alopecia areata remains highly individualized, affecting many in ways unique to their case. With this form of alopecia, the body’s immune system attacks hair follicles and dramatically slows or stops hair production. The follicles themselves remain viable, and regrowth of hair is possible. Male pattern baldness is also called male pattern alopecia, and it usually progresses in a typical M-shaped pattern before progressing to a U-shape. Usually, it’s a permanent condition, though there are some medications that slow hair loss and encourage new growth for some men. Women have different alopecia patterns than men. Hair thins in the middle crown area, but rarely progresses to complete baldness as it does in men.
Yes. Scarring alopecia covers a range of rare conditions where hair follicles are destroyed and replaced by scar tissue. There is another type of hair loss condition called effluvium, meaning an outflow. Telogen effluvium and anagen effluvium both affect the whole scalp, though often not evenly. Telogen effluvium can be a precursor to male pattern baldness, or can occur on its own as a distinct condition. It happens when hair follicles enter a resting phase during which hairs are shed. Anagen effluvium has a quick onset, usually associated with chemotherapy patients, as the hair follicles are inadvertently targeted by the chemotherapy medications.
There are several treatments for the different forms of hair loss. Some conditions are more easily treatable than others, and results depend largely on underlying diagnosis. Alopecia areata treatments target the immune system to disrupt its attack on the hair follicles. Male or female pattern alopecia need not be treated if the patient is comfortable with their appearance. If treatment is desired, medications such as minoxidil and finasteride can slow hair loss and, in some cases, encourage regrowth. These drugs may work well with telogen effluvium, though it may also reverse itself naturally. Anagen effluvium due to chemotherapy spontaneously reverses, sometimes within a month of the end of treatment. If hair loss is permanent, hair transplantation is an option. Dr. Terrence Keaney is an expert in hair loss and hair transplantation, and uses the state-of-the-art robotic Artas hair transplantation device to aid in his procedures. The creation of a natural looking hairline requires experience, skill and an artistic eye, and Dr. Keaney’s seasoned and detailed technique yields natural-looking and very effective results.