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The Different Types of Alopecia Explained

The terms alopecia and hairloss are often used interchangably which is entirely understandable because, in effect, they both refer to the exact same general condition of a person losing their hair. Hairloss is a term used by the general public to refer to any form of alopecia. Alopecia is meant to be a medical term used by doctors but most often you'll only ever hear it used by trichologists or possibly a dermatologist.

What separates one from the other is simply this. Hairloss is used as a "catchall" phrase to cover anything which causes the loss of hair. Alopecia is the medical classification of each type of hairloss - there are far more types of hairloss than you probably ever imagined.

Alopecia is different because it puts each type of hairloss into it's own category. For example the most common type of hairloss is male pattern baldness (also referred to as MPB). The medical term for this is alopecia androgenetica or sometimes just androgenetic alopecia. Both of these medical terms refer to the common condition of male pattern baldness.

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. Oddly enough alopecia angrogenetica should only ever effect men but can affect women in rare cases.

So what other types of alopecia are there?

After alopecia androgenetica the next most common types are alopecia areata and alopecia universalis (also called alopecia totalis).

Alopecia areata is the loss of patches of hair on the head or elsewhere on the body. This type of hairloss can affect men, women or children of any ethnic background. Most troubling is the fact that this type of hairloss can appear pretty much overnight without any real warning.

So what causes alopecia areata? There are numerous causes for this condition. Extreme stress, prolonged illness, prolonged high fevers, extreme reactions to medication or forms of viral attack. The hairloss experienced during alopecia areata is not always permanent and the hair does grow back in some people.

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.

Alopecia universalis/totalis is the total loss of all body hair including the face and upper body. This condition can also affect the growth of nails. Again this condition can appear with little or no warning in otherwise healthy adults or children. Suggested treatments for this condition are topical immunotherapy. This involves the application of a chemical irritant to the areas where has been lost. This irritant 'provokes' the hair back into growing by forcing the bodies immune system back into action. Aromatherapy (the use of essential oils) is very popular in the treatment of this type of alopecia..