Types of Alopecia

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I. Alopecia areata

It is characterized by the complete loss of hair in sharply defined areas of the scalp. The affected skin is shiny and slightly thin and hair pores are visible.

  • Autoimmune disorder (where the body’s immune system starts to reject the hair for unknown reasons)
  • Association with autoimmune disorders like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Addison’s disease, leucoderma
  • Sudden physical or emotional stress may lead to hair loss in a sensitive individual (trophoneurosis)
  • It is not infectious
  • Usually seen in children and young adults but may occur in any age
  • Commonly affects the scalp but may involve other hair bearing areas.
  • More common in males
  • Alopecia totalis: In 5% of cases alopecia areata may become widespread and lead to total loss of hair on scalp
  • Alopecia universalis: In 1% of cases the hair from the eyebrows, eyelashes, beard and all other hairy portions of the body may fall


II. Traction alopecia

It is a characteristic pattern of hair loss commonly seenin Rajasthani females and Sikh males who tie their hair in traditional knots and apply excessive traction in the process.


III. Congenital alopecia

This condition is very rare. In such cases hair may not be present at birth and will not grow at all later. It may be accompanied by other congenital defects of skin, nails, teeth etc.


IV. Alopecia steatoides

  • Commonly seen in young adults
  • Presence of constant dandruff like scaling from the scalp is a characteristic feature


V. Idiopathic Premature alopecia (masculine alopecia)

  • Commonly seen in young adult males
  • Usually begins between 20-40 years of age
  • Cause is unknown but in most cases a familial predispositionis seen
  • A male hormone (androgen) is believed to be responsible for this type of alopecia


VI. Androgenic Alopecia in women (female pattern alopecia)

This form of hair loss occurs in females due to hormonal imbalance (changes in levels of androgen or estrogen). For example, in menopause many women find that the hair on the head is thinned, while facial hair is coarser. Genetic factors may also play a role.


VII. Senile alopecia

It is characterized by symmetrical thinning and loss of hair in old age.

  • Common after 45-50 years of age
  • It is a degenerative process (occurring as a result of old age), therefore, no treatment is satisfactory


VIII. Primary cicatrical alopecia

  • It is a type of alopecia associated with scarring
  • Mainly affects young adults
  • Common in males as compared to females
  • Cause is unknown


IX. Telogen effluvium

  • Shedding of large quantity of normal hair in certain stressful conditions like pregnancy, surgery, acute psychiatric illness and physical or emotional trauma
  • Hair loss stops spontaneously over a few month