Hair loss

Hair loss or baldness (technically known as alopecia) is a loss of hair from the head or body. Baldness can refer to general hair loss or androgenic alopecia (male pattern baldness). Some types of baldness can be caused by alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder. The extreme forms of alopecia areata are alopecia totalis, which involves the loss of all head hair, and alopecia universalis, which involves the loss of all hair from the head and the body. Baldness and hypotrichosis can have many causes, including fungal infection (tinea capitis), traumatic damage, such as by compulsive pulling (trichotillomania), as a result of radiotherapy or chemotherapy, and as a result of nutritional deficiencies such as Iron deficiency, and as a result of autoimmune phenomena, including alopecia areata and hair loss associated with systemic lupus erythematosus.

Terminology

Baldness is the partial or complete lack of hair growth, and part of the wider topic of "hair thinning". The degree and pattern of baldness varies, but its most common cause is androgenic alopecia, alopecia androgenetica, or alopecia seborrheica, with the last term primarily used in Europe.

Signs and symptoms

Symptoms of alopecia include hair loss in patches usually in circular patterns, dandruff, skin lesions, and scarring. Alopecia areata (mild - medium level) usually shows in unusual hair loss areas e.g. eyebrows, backside of the head or above the ears where usually the male pattern baldness does not affect. In male-pattern hair loss, loss and thinning begin at the temples and the crown and either thins out or falls out. Female-pattern hair loss occurs at the frontal and parietal.

Excessive daily hair loss

People have between 100,000 and 150,000 hairs on their head. The number of strands normally lost in a day varies, but on average is 100. In order to maintain a normal volume, hair must be replaced at the same rate at which it is lost. The first signs of hair thinning that people will often notice are more hairs than usual left in the hairbrush after brushing or in the basin after shampooing. Styling can also reveal areas of thinning, such as a wider parting or a thinning crown.

Skin conditions

A substantially blemished face, back and limbs could point to cystic acne. The most severe form of the condition, cystic acne arises from the same hormonal imbalances that cause hair loss, and is associated with dihydrotestosterone production. Seborrheic dermatitis, a condition in which an excessive amount of sebum is produced and builds up on the scalp (looking like an adult cradle cap) is also a symptom of hormonal imbalances, as is an excessively oily or dry scalp. Both can cause hair thinning.

Psychological

Hair thinning and baldness cause psychological stress due to their effect on appearance. Although societal interest in appearance has a long history, this particular branch of psychology came into its own during the 1960s and has gained momentum as messages associating physical attractiveness with success and happiness grow more prevalent. The psychology of hair thinning is a complex issue. Hair is considered an essential part of overall identity: especially for women, for whom it often represents femininity and attractiveness. Men typically associate a full head of hair with youth and vigor. Although they may be aware of pattern baldness in their family, many are uncomfortable talking about the issue...

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