International Women with Alopecia Month

Hair loss is a common condition that affects 25% of women in their lifetime.

July was International Women with Alopecia Awareness month, and it is important to know the causes and treatments for ladies currently affected by hair loss.

Did you know that everyone sheds hair every day?  The average person loses about 100 hairs a day and according to the medical community, if you lose more than 125 hairs a day you have “hair loss.” Alopecia is the most common type of hair loss and is caused by an auto-immune disruption. What happens is that specific T-cells invade the hair follicles (due to the loss of immune function), building up around it, and shrink it so that it prevents hair growth. The hair will re-grow when it is given the correct biological immune signal. 

 

There are two types of Alopecia: Alopecia Areata (Spot Baldness) and Androgenetic Alopecia (Female Pattern Hair Loss).

Alopecia Areata is characterized by spot baldness, which happens quickly, usually starting on the scalp.  Alopecia Areata tends to go by cycles with hair loss and re-growth occurring several times.  While this is an immune disorder it is not life threatening.  The second, and most common type of hair loss in women (affecting 6% of women under the age of 50, and 38% of women aged 70 and older), is known as Androgenetic Alopecia, more commonly known as Female Pattern Hair Loss/Baldness. This type of hair loss is more uniform and all over the scalp, usually thinning on the top of the head. 

 

It has been easier to diagnosis these types of hair loss more recently and your dermatologist can diagnosis and treat Alopecia.  Often Alopecia Areata can be diagnosed by a visual exam by a dermatologist because the characteristics of the condition are so blatant. The link between Alopecia and heredity traits are not fully understood, but it does appear to be more common in people with other affected family members, as well as family members affected by other non-related autoimmune disorders. Treatments are also better than ever. Women who are diagnosed may consider taking Rogaine (minoxidil), hair replacement surgery, or adding extensions.  

 

Hair loss can be a very difficult and emotional condition to deal with, especially for women. Low self-esteem and depression are more common in women than men when dealing with Alopecia.  The good news is that hair loss is not life-threatening.  We need to raise awareness of conditions like Alopecia so we can reduce the stigma and allow those living with it to be better understood.

Author Platinum Dermatology — Published August 1, 2019