What is Alopecia?
Alopecia or more simply baldness is a generalized term for various types of hair loss: from hair loss in certain areas to complete baldness and, in extreme cases, hair loss on the face and body.
The term “alopecia” is often used as an abbreviation for alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks hair follicles. This is one of the most common forms of alopecia. There are various types of it, each of which has its own characteristics and manifestations.
Changes in hair condition, including thinning or hair loss, can also be a manifestation of an underlying condition that requires attention.
Alopecia is characteristic of both men and women, although it usually manifests itself in different ways: if men often experience total hair loss, then women are more characterized by thinning.
Alopecia is distinguished according to the form of hair loss; total (complete absence of hair), diffuse (thinning of hair over the entire surface) and focal (absence of hair in limited areas).
Early Signs of Alopecia
Any change in hair condition can be an early sign of baldness. Specific symptoms to look out for are the following:
- Hair becomes brittle, indicating that the regrown hair is weak.
- You feel like you are losing more hair than before.
- You discover a tuft of hair on your pillow in the morning.
- Tufts of hair fall out during shampooing.
- Bald area on the scalp.
- Changes in fingernails and toenails – very small bumps, small white lines, or a general worsening of their condition.
Manifestation of progressive alopecia
As alopecia progresses, baldness may become more noticeable and spread to the entire scalp (and sometimes the entire body):
- Multiple areas on the scalp without hair.
- Loss of beard hair or bald patches in the beard area.
- Hair loss in other parts of the body (for example, loss of eyelashes, hair on hands and feet).
- Severe thinning or complete hair loss on the scalp.
Diagnosis of Alopecia
Alopecia of any kind is diagnosed by the treating physician, trichologist, or dermatologist through physical examination and examination of the patient’s medical history (including family history).
Diagnostics may also include some hair and blood tests.
Alopecia Treatment Options
A number of medical and specialized treatments are offered for the treatment of alopecia. Appropriate treatment will be prescribed depending on the type of alopecia the patient is suffering from (as well as other factors such as genetics or age).
The first step is to seek the advice of your doctor or trichologist, who will diagnose the type of alopecia and discuss with you the right treatment options. You can visit our DerMA Clinic centre in Guelph area for an effective and accurate diagnosis done by our specialized dermatologist, Dr. Sajic. If you are concerned that your hair is thinning all over your scalp or bumps, we can help minimize the effects of hair loss.
In the case of alopecia areata (and some other types of alopecia areata, such as postpartum alopecia), hair can grow back naturally over time. At first, the hair will most likely appear white and thin, but after a few months, it will begin to recover in diameter and take on its natural colour.