Suddenly suffer from hair loss in specific places, while you always have a nice full head of hair. Then there is a good chance that you suffer from Alopecia. Within a few weeks or even days, hairs in one area appear thinner and hair may seem to stop growing. This is very annoying and can have a major impact on daily life. But what is Alopecia, and perhaps more importantly, what can you do about it?
What is Alopecia?
Its literal meaning is ‘baldness’. There are different forms and the process is different for everyone. Sudden hair loss, bald patches on the body, whole strands of hair that fall out or gradual hair loss. There is still a lot of uncertainty about the causes of baldness. In some cases hair growth returns, in other situations it only spreads further.
Alopecia is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s defenses are disrupted. In principle, the immune system protests and turns against its own body, in this case against the hair roots. The autoimmune disease causes inflammation of the hair roots, leaving only weak, brittle hairs to grow. Eventually no hairs grow from the hair roots at all. Some forms of baldness are hereditary, but the influence of heredity is not always clear. Sometimes, the condition is aggravated by other diseases related to immune system disorders. Thyroid disorders, vitiligo or forms of anemia are such diseases. Tension and stress can contribute to this, but are not the direct cause.
The three most common types of Alopecia are:
- Alopecia areata, this is a very common type that can occur in different parts of the body.
- Alopecia totalis, in the totalis variant, mainly the scalp hair no longer grows
- Androgenetic alopecia literally means “male type of hair loss”.
Alopecia areata, Latin for patchy baldness, is an autoimmune disease. This means that the cells in your immune system accidentally attack the hair follicles, resulting in hair loss. This suspicion is reinforced by the fact that it has been found that patients with this disease are relatively more likely to suffer from other diseases that are associated with disorders in the immune system. These could be some thyroid diseases, vitiligo (white patches on the skin), or certain types of anemia. Hereditary factors may also play a role as is stress. These factors probably play only a minor role.
The places affected places are usually round or oval. In the spots (almost) all hair falls out, while the skin around them shows normal hair growth. The result is that one or more bald areas develop.
This skin condition is relatively common and can affect anyone at any age, although most cases occur before or around the age of 30. The duration of the hair loss and its severity vary from person to person.
The course of alopecia areata is very unpredictable. In most cases, a recovery of hair growth occurs spontaneously within a few months to years. The hairs that come back are sometimes white, but the normal hair color returns over time. In some cases, complete healing does not occur. It also happens that the hair growth restores itself in the original places, but that bald spots subsequently appear elsewhere. It is possible that the condition will disappear completely and come back after years.
Alopecia totalis is a hair disease in which hair suddenly falls out and usually does not return. This condition can affect all hairy parts of the body (legs, armpits, etc.) in addition to total hair loss on the head. It occurs in men and women and can lead to psychological and emotional problems. We speak of alopecia totalis when you lose all your body hair.
The cause of Alopecia totalis is, just as with the Areata variant, unknown. It is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system turns against the hair follicle. About 1 in 250,000 people suffer from the totalis variant. Both men and women suffer from this.
Because the skin’s stem cells remain, there is a small chance that the hair will grow back. However, the prognosis gets worse the longer the process takes. Regrowth is unlikely if Alopecia totalis lasts longer than two years. The prognosis is also poor when the totalis variant develops at a young age. If Alopecia totalis is hereditary we do not know.
Androgenetic alopecia is the name of the hair loss commonly referred to as ‘male pattern baldness’. This baldness is caused by the sensitivity of the hair follicles to the (male) hormone DHT. In men, androgenetic alopecia can be recognized because the amount of hair on the crown or at the inlets decreases. The term ‘male pattern baldness’ is somewhat confusing, as women can also suffer from this form of baldness. Women therefore speak of ‘hair loss according to the female pattern’.
Androgenetic alopecia has nothing to do with Areata in terms of cause. In the Netherlands, an estimated 70 percent of men suffer from androgenetic alopecia. This is more than 40 percent for women. Androgenetic alopecia can develop as early as puberty.
In men, this baldness starts at the temples and on the crown and usually continues until only an edge of hair remains on the back of the head. In women, androgenetic alopecia is usually manifested by a thinner hair implant, often dominant on the midline of the head.
Androgenetic alopecia is not a disease or condition, but is considered an aging phenomenon and is largely hereditary. This does not alter the fact that it is experienced as a condition, especially for (young) women whose baldness is clearly visible. This can also be very stressful for men whose baldness starts at a young age and has a major impact on the quality of life.
Unfortunately, with Alopecia there is no solution available that tackles this problem at the root cause. However, a number of products can be used to promote hair growth recovery as much as possible. For this we recommend a combination of the Neofollics Tablets , Neofollics Shampoo and the Neofollics Lotion. Please visit our treatment page for different Alopecia treatments.