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What is Alopecia?

A lot of our clients suffer from a condition called Alopecia. Unfortunately, as common as the condition is, most people have never heard of it. So what is alopecia? The short answer is that alopecia is the medical term for hair loss or baldness (although what most people refer to as baldness is usually androgenic alopecia). The longer answer is a little bit more complicated and requires some explanation.

First, there are three main ways that alopecia presents itself:

Alopecia Areata – In alopecia areata, the hair loss comes suddenly and appears in patches. It can be centered around the head or scalp, but can also appear anywhere on the body.

Alopecia Totalis – Like alopecia areata, alopecia totalis can appear anywhere on the body. The main difference between alopecia totalis and alopecia areata is that in totalis, the affected area becomes completely devoid of hair. This could, for instance, mean that someone suffering from alopecia totalis loses all the hair on their heads, or on just one arm, or on their chest or back.

Alopecia Universalis – In alopecia universalis, all hair, both head hair and body hair, falls out, leaving the sufferer completely bald. This condition is very similar to the kind of hair loss experienced by chemotherapy patients.

While alopecia is primarily caused by underlying medical conditions, there are a number of activities that can either speed up the process or cause forms of alopecia to present. For example, wearing excessively tight braids or ponytails, using hair relaxer, or straightening hair with a hot iron can all result in hair loss or make existing hair loss worse.

Beyond those environmental causes, numerous diseases and conditions can be responsible for alopecia. From vitamin deficiencies, specifically Iron, to diabetes, to hormonal changes, and a host of illnesses. Some medications can also cause alopecia as a side effect. These include chemotherapy, anabolic steroids, and even some birth control pills.

Alopecia is a complicated condition, and as such treating it is rarely a simple process. While in some cases like those caused by iron deficiencies or malnutrition, the solution can be pretty straightforward, in others diagnosis and treatment can be difficult or even impossible. In cases where alopecia cannot be cured and hair loss cannot be restarted, a wig may be the best solution. While not a cure or treatment, wigs often make sufferers of alopecia feel better, regain lost confidence, and provide comfort.



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