My neighbor’s two sons, both in their 20’s, suffer from alopecia, or hair loss, of different types. Round, bald spots have developed on the head of the older son, while the younger one simply started losing his hair.
Why do some people, even at an early age, begin losing their hair? How does one acquire this condition?
We all understand that as a person gets older, he or she begins to lose scalp hair. It is also well understood that the proneness of some people to start losing hair at a rather early age – and at a somewhat fast rate at that – is hereditary.
Alopecia, the medical term for hair loss, has different types. The most common type of alopecia in men is the one in which hair begins to thin at the topmost part of the head and the outline of scalp hair starts to recede.
Signs such as the receding of the hairline at the forehead, and then at the temples, and finally the thinning of hair at the crown characterize this type of alopecia. Eventually, the bald portions of the head merge. At this point, only a fringe of hair remains around the ears and at the back of the head. This type of alopecia is mainly genetic in origin and is often primed by the presence of male hormones called androgens.
Alopecia areata is the medical term used for the specific condition of my neighbor’s older son. The occurrence of hair loss in patches resulting to the emergence of an entirely bald spot surrounded by normal hair growth characterizes this particular condition. The basic cause of this type of hair loss is believed to be both immunological and genetic.
Of course, alopecia can likewise occur in women. In fact, a woman may suffer temporarily from an abnormal instance of hair loss after childbirth. In other instances, some women may suffer from alopecia as a consequence of having contracted certain infections or diseases.
As women get older, their hair often thins, although women are not usually known to suffer from total hair loss. The hormonal changes that occur during menopause are possible contributing factors in alopecia in older women.
Traction alopecia is another type of alopecia in women. Often, the use of rollers for an extended period and excessive hair brushing are the culprits; or it may be the result of often assuming such hair styles, as ponytails, in which the hair is pulled too tightly away from the scalp.
Certain prescription drugs and medical treatment procedures are available for the different types of alopecia. But it is first important for the affected individual to have a thorough understanding of his or her particular hair loss problem before deciding on any of these. A hair loss specialist is best consulted in this regard.