What is Alopecia?

Hair loss is common among men and women. If you are experiencing hair loss, there is more than one type of hair loss that you could be suffering from.

Hair loss comes under a blanket term called alopecia. It refers to the loss of hair that is not natural. Each day, a person loses between 75 and 100 strands of hair from their head. This is all a part of the normal cycle of hair growth, loss and re-growth.

Each hair follicle goes through a hair growth cycle that lasts anywhere from two to five years. It begins with the Anagen phase. This is when the hair is actively growing out of the follicle. The Catagen phase is the transitional period where the hair shaft detaches from the blood supply that was nourishing it through the growth phase.

The hair then rests in the Telogen phase. Since the hair is detached, it won’t hurt when you pull it out. In fact this is the phase that the hair in your brush was going through. The last phase is the Mesanagen phase. A new hair begins to grow within the follicle.

When people lose hair it is sometimes caused by follicles that are stuck in the Telogen phase. There is no re-growth happening within the follicle after the old hair strand has been detached.

Alopecia areata is a type of hair loss that is thought to be caused by an auto-immune disease. For anyone who has an auto-immune disease like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, you know that this is caused by the body attacking its own cells. For some reason, the body begins to recognize its hair follicles as foreign and sets about destroying them and the hairs that they produce.

Anyone can suffer from alopecia areata at any age. The hair loss can occur in small patches anywhere on the head or it can be extensive and affect the entire head. No one is sure what causes this auto-immune response in the body in the first place.

Androgenetic alopecia is the term most often given to male pattern baldness. Again, both men and women are affected. It is the most common type of hair loss that we know of. Hairs become shorter and thinner and eventually the hairs are so short and light that they might as well be nonexistent. For all intents and purposes, the person is bald.

For men, the hair loss occurs most often at the crown of the head or towards the back of the head. In women, it is not usually an area of widespread baldness, but rather thinning hair and smaller patches of denudation.

When you say hair loss, most people think of male pattern baldness but this is not the only reason that someone may go bald.