If at some point in your life you experience an intense hair loss, it doesn’t mean that you suffer from alopecia. When stress, anxiety and certain phases of the hair growth cycle occur, you could lose more hair than usual, but that’s not a sign of baldness. Although baldness is more common among men, women can also develop it. In this article, we’ll show you everything you need to know how to stop alopecia once and for all.
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How to stop alopecia
When hair loss occurs due to stress or to a non-scarring alopecia cause, it will eventually regrow, but when it comes to scarring alopecia, there are no entirely effective solutions.
Several supplements can help you slow down hair loss, but up until now, the only medications approved by the FDA to stop alopecia are finasteride and minoxidil. Other than that, hair transplants often are a solution. Below we explain in detail the ways to stop alopecia.
A medication recommended for men only that has to be taken from the first stage of the balding process. It works by stopping hair loss, but it doesn’t help regain hair in the areas where it has already fallen out. That’s why it needs to be used after the first symptoms of alopecia appear.
Found in spray or lotion, it can be used by men and women alike. Minoxidil is a vasodilator that promotes healthy hair follicles and stops alopecia. Its results can be seen quicker than those of finasteride and it must be applied twice a day in dry hair.
This is the most effective way to stop alopecia. You can choose a hair microtransplant, that is, a transplant carried out hair by hair. You could also go for a follicular unit transplantation, where a patient’s hair is transplanted in groups of 1 to 3 hairs that will grow naturally afterwards.
One can turn to these effective methods when suffering from an irreversible type of alopecia.
What is alopecia?
It’s an abnormal hair loss also known as “baldness”. It’s possible to suspect the presence of alopecia when a person loses more than 100 hair strands a day. This condition can occur on the scalp, but also on other hair-covered body parts like the armpits, eyebrows, eyelashes, genitalia and others.
Androgenic alopecia, also called “common baldness”, is the most prevalent type, but there are other forms that we’ll explain further on. Depending on the type, this illness can be reversible or irreversible.
Normal hair growth cycle
Human hair develops in three stages. The anagen or growth phase lasts between 2 and 6 years. Followed by the catagen or rest phase, and finally the telogen or shedding phase, which lasts about 20 days. Under normal conditions, between 70 and 100 hairs are lost in a day. Which are replaced by new ones from the hair follicle.
Each hair grows from a hair follicle and follows its own cycle, which is independent of those around it. Each hair is in a different phase of its life cycle at a given time. There are between 100,000 and 150,000 hairs on a person’s head. Of which 85% are in the anagen phase, 1-2% in the catagen or resting phase and 13-14% in the telogen or fall phase.
How is alopecia classified?
According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), alopecia is classified the following way:
- Alopecia totalis: loss of all scalp hair, so the patient ends up being completely bald.
- Alopecia universalis: rare condition in which the patient loses hair entirely, including eyebrows, eyelashes and head hair.
- Alopecia areata: the patient loses hair in certain areas because of an immune disorder that causes the body to attack its own hair follicles.
What can cause alopecia?
This condition can be developed at any age, but it is most common in adolescence and adulthood. Usually, lost hair will regrow after a year. If the disease is caused by an immune reaction, hair will fall in certain areas, creating bald patches on the scalp. Some conditions like vitiligo and thyroid disorders may also lead to baldness.
Causes of alopecia
A variety of factors can cause hair loss.
- Genetics: hair loss can be inherited, especially among men.
- Aging: as the years go by, hair loses its strength, people go through hormonal changes and baldness can appear.
- Stress: having a stressful life causes hair to fall out more.
- Diet: a low intake of minerals, vitamins and nutrients.
- Excessive use of products and tools: using too many hair products, blow dryers and hair straighteners can lead to an excessive hair loss.
- Medication: some drugs like contraceptives, anticoagulants and antidepressants can cause hair loss.
- Pregnancy: during pregnancy and after labor, women can lose hair.
- Diseases: lupus, diabetes, anemia, hypothyroidism and syphilis are some of the diseases that can cause hair loss.
- Cancer treatments: radio and chemotherapy make all head hair and body hair fall out.
- Larger amounts of hair on pillows, bathtubs and showers.
- Itchiness and redness in the scalp.
- Hair more oily than usual and presence of severe dandruff.
- Great amounts of hair on the brush after using it.
- Beard, eyebrow or eyelash hair loss.
- Brittle, debilitated hair.
- Receding hairline at the temples.
Because the diseases that can cause alopecia are multiple, it is important to establish a classification of them to facilitate their diagnosis and treatment. There are two large groups of alopecia: scarring and non-scarring. In non-scarring alopecia, hair is lost, but the hair follicle that produces it is intact. So it is possible to recover it with some treatment.
In scarring alopecia, the destruction of the hair follicle occurs by some mechanism. Whether inflammatory, infectious or traumatic. Therefore, hair loss is irreversible. Some chronic diseases of the scalp can cause non-scarring alopecia in the first phase and after a long period of evolution, it becomes scarring.
Some types of tinea capitis, telogen effluvium, and androgenic alopecia are the most common non-scarring alopecias. It can be congenital, such as aplasia cutis congenita, caused by certain infectious agents, or it can be caused by tumors that affect the hair.
If they affect a specific region it is called circumscribed alopecia, if they affect the whole it is called diffuse alopecia. They can be divided into congenital alopecia when a disorder is present from the moment of birth and when they develop in adult life. They are classified according to the cause as hereditary, of infectious origin, tumors, dermatoses, general diseases and traumatic causes.
It’s the most common form of alopecia and it can be treated to regain lost hair and regenerate the scalp.
- Androgenic: it’s an inherited baldness that affects men the most and it’s rare among women.
- Areata: usually, hair falls out in sections, but sometimes it can happen in the entire scalp.
- Diffuse: due to a medication side effect, to hormonal changes or to a disease.
- Traumatic: due to external factors such as hair dye, straighteners, permanents, blow dryers and chemicals.
- Drug-induced: certain medications can cause hair loss, but once the treatment is discontinued, hair tends to grow back.
- From diseases: some diseases and their treatments can produce hair loss.
Hair follicles are destroyed or damaged and it can be due to five factors:
- Infections: candida folliculitis, kerion or favus.
- Dermatitis: discoid lupus erythematosus, dermatomyositis, lichen planus and sclerosus and scleroderma.
- Tumors: trichoepithelioma, lymphoma, metastasis.
- Clinical syndromes: folliculitis decalvans, frontal fibrosing alopecia, alopecia pavimaculata or erosive pustular dermatitis of the scalp.
- atrichia . This name is given because the scalp is incapable of forming hair follicles. Suffering from alopecia that can be total or partial, since birth. Other skin disorders are also associated.
- Anhidrotic ectodermal dysplasia . It is a hereditary condition that leads to baldness, poor tooth development and absence of sweat glands.
- Monilethrix . It is another of the rare inherited diseases that causes hair problems. It is caused by a genetic mutation coding for keratin.
- Temporal triangular alopecia.
- Marinesco-Sjögren syndrome.
- Menkes disease. Also known as steely hair syndrome. A genetic problem caused by a congenital metabolic alteration of copper.
- Loose anagen hair syndrome.
- Trichorrhinophalangeal syndrome . Rare genetic disease, which can be recognized by sparse hair, deformed nose, short feet and short stature.
- Hair cartilage hypoplasia.
How is alopecia diagnosed?
- A complete medical history is required to diagnose the condition.
- Sometimes it is necessary to perform an analysis to detect any changes that cause hair loss.
- In exceptional cases, and especially in inflammatory scarring alopecia, a scalp biopsy should be performed.
- It is very important to carry out a thorough examination and diagnosis of each patient’s hair loss. In order to accurately determine the reason for hair loss and choose the most effective treatment.
Conclusion about stop alopecia
Alopecia is a problem that can arise for various reasons. Altering the natural hair cycle, causing hair to be lost temporarily or permanently. Among the many causes of alopecia, we can highlight the hereditary and hormonal factors, the passage of age, diet, medication intake, among others. Although there are some types of baldness that cannot be resolved, many of them can be treated. Through drugs, appliance treatments or hair surgery, it is possible to enjoy lush hair again.