Everybody has experienced hair in the drain of the shower or the occasional stray on our pillow. This is normal and not a cause for alarm. However, there are forms of alopecia, the scientific name for what is more widely known as hair loss, that strike fear in the hears of men everywhere.
The unmistakable receding hairline and hair thinning that is a trademark of male pattern baldness affects 66% of men by the age of 35. Also known as androgenic alopecia, male pattern baldness is a genetic condition which can also affect women and is the most common cause of hair loss.
Androgenic alopecia can start for some men as early as their 20s. If you don’t suffer from male pattern baldness, you could be forgiven for thinking that the hair just falls out and doesn’t grow again. Indeed, this is a common misconception. If you have experienced it first hand, you likely know that the hair becomes thinner first then eventually falls out and doesn’t grow back.
For men who don’t suffer from male pattern baldness, if a hair naturally falls out it is likely replaced by an identical hair which grows in its place. However, for sufferers of male pattern baldness, when that hair naturally falls out it is replaced by a thinner and weaker hair. This continues until finally the follicle dies and ceases to produce new hairs.
Alopecia Areata is characterized by circular spots of baldness on the scalp. It may be a single circular shape of baldness or it could be several. Some men experience on a level which results in a complete loss of hair and can therefore be mistaken as male pattern baldness.
T cells, also known as lymphocytes, surround a hair follicle and attack mistakenly believing the follicle to be a threat to the body. There are two types of alopecia areata: scarring alopecia, which results in a loss of the hair follicle and is therefore irreversible, and nonscarring alopecia in which the follicle is preserved and hair can begin to grow again.
Like androgenic alopecia, it is believed that alopecia areata is a genetic disease. Though there are treatment options, a doctor will like recommend a period of observation before prescribing a treatment because the hair loss can often suddenly stop after which the hair grows back.
Telogen Effluvium is not considered alopecia because it is not hair loss though it can look and feel like it. To understand this condition, you must first understand the three phases of hair growth: anagen or active hair growth, catagen or transitional hair growth, and telogen, a resting phase after which the hair falls out and anagen begins again.
Because any of the hairs on our heads can be in the three phases at any time, telogen effluvium occurs when there are more hairs on your head that are in the telogen phase than there are hairs in the anagen phase. These hairs will have either stopped growing or are falling out. It is temporary and can result from stress or a hormonal imbalance.