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Alopecia

Symptoms and treatment

How many people ask themselves why they are going bald? Baldness or hair loss is known as alopecia. Although alopecia is most of the time involuntary, there are many situations where a voluntary procedure has caused alopecia.

There are many types of alopecia. Alopecia areata is what in most cases is called spot baldness. It involves one or more round spots on the scalp. It is thought to be an autoimmune disorder. Another type of alopecia is known as androgenic alopecia. This is also called male pattern baldness. It usually starts above the temples and hair loss appears in a well defined pattern. Hair also thins at the crown of the head.

Alopecia can also occur as a loss of hair all over the head. This is known as alopecia totalis. Stress is thought to be a well known factor, however, people leading stress-free lives have experienced these symptoms. It's been said that alopecia is sometimes caused by voluntary procedures, such as excessive hair styling, tight ponytails, tight braids or cosmetic procedures. Facelifts are a common cause, but in these cases alopecia is often transient, because of the shock to the hair follicles. It usually fixes itself in about three months.

In most cases, alopecia is said to be genetic or stress-related. There are many cases that are caused by the procedures discussed or by a psychological compulsion to pull out one's own hair. Symptoms include small, soft bald patches which can occur in almost any shape on any part of the body (not just the head). Hair loss may tingle or be slightly painful and the hair will fall out over a short period of time. Other symptoms include narrower hair closer to the base of the strand, and the nails may have pitting or trachyonychia.

Treatment

There is no known cure for alopecia, but there are treatments. It's been said that you can surgically correct the hair loss with local flaps or micrografts and minigafts. Methotrexate and corticosteroids have also been proposed as treatments. It has also been treated with lifestyle changes, such as hair coloring, diet, hair transplants and stress reduction. In many cases, hair from spot baldness has grown back within a year.

By Amanda Abbott

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