It’s not uncommon for people to swap around the terms hairloss and alopecia and for them to use them to refer to the exactly the same thing. This makes sense really because alopecia and hairloss are basically the same thing – with some subtle differences that will be explained here. Hairloss is the term that the common man or woman on the street will use to refer to any form of alopecia. Alopecia, on the other hand, is the medical term used by doctors to refer to hairloss. The reality is though that it’s normally only a trichologist (a hair doctor) that will use this type of medical terminology.
Hairloss is the generic phrase used by people to refer to all types of hairloss – no matter what the cause might be. Alopecia is a specific medical term with far more varieties than you could ever imagine.
For example the most common type of hairloss is male patterns baldness (also called mpb). This condition affects 85%+ of all males. The medical term for this is alopecia androgenetica or androgentic alopcia. These both mean the exact same thing. Alopecia refers to hairloss. Androgen refers to the hormone “allergy” that causes male pattern baldness. Genetica refers to the fact that this type of hairloss is a genetically inherited condition.
Are there many other types of alopecia? Yes. The next most common type of alopecia is alopecia areata which is the loss of patches of hair on the scalp or on other parts of the body. This type of alopecia affects men, women and children of any age or background. The most difficult aspect of this hairloss is that it can appear without warning – even when you’re in perfect health.
Is there a specific cause for alopecia areata? There are several causes but the most common are stress, prolonged illness, viral infection and sometimes even extreme allergic reactions to some medications. The good news is that hairloss from alopecia areata is rarely permanent and regrowth of lost hair is possible in many patients. Two of the most popular treatments for alopecia areata are cortisone injections to the affected area or the use of a 5% minoxidil solution. Many people with this condition claim very positive results from the use of essential oil therapies.
Next is alopecia totalis. This is the complete loss of all body hair – including scalp, face and body hair. In some cases your nail growth can also be effected. Again this type of alopecia can appear in healthy adults with little or no warning. It shares many of the same causes with alopecia areata but stress seems to be very common as a cause for alopecia totalis. A popular form of treatment for this alopecia is something called topical immunotherapy. This is where a chemical irritant is applied to the hairless area. The idea is that by irritating the area with specific chemicals that your immune system is forced to fight back and this can trigger hair growth. The use of essential oils is also quite popular in treating alopecia totalis.
So as you can see hairloss is far more complex than you might have previously thought. It’s a complex subject that’s important to understand properly before treating your own or helping another with their hairloss problem.