Alopecia is an autoimmune condition that occurs when your immune system starts attacking the hair cells. This causes you to lose hair in any part of your body that produces hair. Alopecia may occur gradually with large chunks of hair being lost in severe cases. Alopecia can cause you to lose confidence in your physical appearance and this can affect your self-esteem.

Alopecia can be genetic where your risk increases if you have a family member with alopecia. Alopecia can also be a sign of an underlying disease. The diagnosis of alopecia is made by Dr. Martin Maag in Lakewood Ranch by taking your medical history and then conducting a physical examination of your body systems. The doctor may also order laboratory tests to find out whether you have an underlying medical condition. Treatment of alopecia is individualized depending on the cause.

What Are the Types of Alopecia?

There are different types of alopecia. The types of alopecia depending on the amount of hair that is lost are alopecia Universalis, alopecia areata, and alopecia totalis. Alopecia Universalis is a type of alopecia in which you lose hair in your whole body. Alopecia Universalis is mainly genetic and is commonly seen in the late teen years and peaks at 25 to 30 years. Alopecia Universalis does not leave any scars and is more common in males. It accounts for 5% of all the cases of alopecia.

Alopecia totalis involves hair loss on the entire scalp. Alopecia areata is hair loss that occurs in patches and is related to stress. Alopecia areata can occur in a person of any age but it commonly begins in childhood and some people may have a genetic predisposition to this type of alopecia. Depending on the cause of alopecia, there are different types of alopecia like traumatic alopecia and scarring alopecia. Alopecia may occur gradually with large chunks of hair being lost in severe cases. Alopecia can cause you to lose confidence in your physical appearance and this can affect your self-esteem.

Traumatic alopecia occurs after physical trauma to the hair-producing areas of the body.  Thermal burns and frostbites can cause traumatic alopecia. Accidents like a blow to the head or road traffic accidents can also cause traumatic alopecia. There is a type of alopecia that is called trichotillomania that occurs when a person develops a compulsive urge to pull out their hair.

Trichotillomania mostly affects teenagers who are less than 17 years old. Trichotillomania can also be a sign of an underlying mental condition that requires evaluation by a mental health specialist. Another type of alopecia is scarring alopecia that can be caused by infection of the hair cells by microorganisms. Fungal infections like candidiasis, bacterial infections like leprosy, syphilis and necrotic acne, viral infections like herpes, simplex and varicella-zoster, and protozoal diseases like leishmaniasis can all cause scarring alopecia.

Scarring alopecia can also be caused by chronic diseases of the skin like chronic inflammatory dermatosis and lichen planus. Other types of alopecia are alopecia diffusa that is caused by interruption of the growth phase of hair and only affects the scalp. Alopecia effluvium occurs abruptly and is related to stress, hormonal changes, and post-surgery. Alopecia effluvium commonly affects women within 3 months of the postpartum period.

Conclusion

Alopecia is caused by an autoimmune reaction in which the immune system affects the body cells. Alopecia can be a sign of an underlying disease. There are different types of alopecia with different causes like alopecia Universalis, alopecia areata, alopecia totalis, traumatic and scarring alopecia, and alopecia effluvium. You should seek treatment from a hair specialist if you are not comfortable with the hair loss.