Understanding the Exact Type of Your Hair Loss

Hair loss is often referred to as alopecia. It is a disorder where the normal growth cycle of your hair is interrupted in favor of hair loss and not hair growth.

Although hair loss can occur anywhere, the scalp is the most common area affected by hair loss. The following are some of the common types of hair loss and their causes.

Androgenic alopecia

Androgenic alopecia (AGA) is the most common type of hair loss and affects about 80% of men and 50% of women in the course of their life.

This chronic and progressive condition is so common in the United States that the NIH posits that about 30 million women and 50 million men suffer from in in the USA.

AGA is also called pattern baldness and affects both males and females. However, the presentation of the disease is different in both sexes.

Male pattern badness

In men, pattern baldness always appears with the following characteristics:

  • A hairline that recedes at the temples;
  • Hair loss occurring predominantly at the crown (vertex).

Female pattern baldness

The presentation of pattern baldness in females is also different. A study found out that pattern baldness in women:

  • Presents with a diffuse and an even thinning of the vertex, though the hairline at the front of the scalp is preserved;
  • May exhibit a Christmas pattern of hair loss where the scalp starts widening at the front and tapers towards the vertex;
  • Often presents with thinning at the temples.

The hallmark characteristics of pattern baldness are contributed to by genetics and male hormones (androgens) such as testosterone and dihydrotestosterone.

Traction alopecia

Another common condition is traction alopecia, where the hairline starts to recede because of the constant tension that is usually caused by particular hairstyles.

When treated on time, complete or partial regrowth of lost hair can be expected.

Alopecia areata

Alopecia areata refers to hair loss that occurs due to an autoimmune disease. In autoimmune disorders, your immune system abnormally attacks your cells and tissues. Sometimes this attack can be directed to your hair follicles, causing hair loss and impairs hair regrowth.

With alopecia areata, both adults and children can be affected in equal measure, and the manifestation of hair loss usually occurs suddenly without any prior warning signs. Loss of scalp hair in alopecia areata occurs in small patches and is not associated with any pain.

If you have his condition, you should expect and be ready to lose your hair, not only in the scalp but also in other body areas, including the eyelashes and the eyebrows.

When given time, the disease worsens to involve all the hairs in the body, leading to complete hair loss or alopecia totalis.

Telogen effluvium

Telogen effluvium is a type of hair loss that occurs when many hair follicles enter the telogen growth phase, also called the resting phase, but growth is halted, and the following growth phase does not begin.

Research has found that telogen effluvium does not lead to complete hair loss but is associated with marked thinning of hair, especially at the temple and crown. Several factors may cause telogen effluvium.

Medical practitioners managing this type of hair loss will take a comprehensive history of your symptoms and investigate you appropriately.

The intensity of investigating telogen effluvium is based on the precept that thyroid diseases, surgery, childbirth, or even stress, are among triggering factors for this type of hair loss and should be identified before treatment is started.

Anagen effluvium

Anagen effluvium is a type of hair loss that is synonymous to drug induce alopecia. It refers to the rapid loss of hair secondary to medical treatment. Patients receiving chemotherapy are the common victims of anagen effluvium.

Chemotherapy uses high potency medications with a rapid onset of action to kill cancer cells. However, these medications may also attack normal cells and sometimes impair and shut down cellular processes such as the production and growth of hair follicles in the hair-growing areas of the body.

With drug-induced alopecia, hair regrowth ensues, and the hair growth cycle returns to normal when the cycles of chemotherapy end and the medication is withdrawn.

Scarring alopecia

Scarring alopecia is also called cicatricial alopecia. It is hair loss that occurs due to inflammation of the scalp. This type of hair loss begins slowly with no advanced symptoms or may occur instantly.

Due to its inflammatory nature, scarring alopecia is associated with other symptoms such as pain, itchiness, redness, and rash-like lesions on the scalp.

Scar tissue occurs as a consequence of the inflammatory process. The scarring that is formed after inflammation is what impairs hair regrowth leading to alopecia.

For hair growth recovery to occur, the underlying condition causing inflammation in your scalp should be accurately diagnosed and treated.

Most of the underlying conditions are skin diseases such as folliculitis, discoid lupus erythematosus, lichen planopilaris, and dissecting cellulitis of the scalp, among other conditions.


There are many causes of hair loss, some of which are not mentioned in this list. However, androgenic alopecia is the most common, and you are very likely to meet someone with androgenic alopecia before you finish walking around a block.

All these causes of hair loss can be treated. Some of them may resolve completely, while others are chronic and may require long-term to lifelong treatment.

  • Malkud, S. (2015). Telogen effluvium: a review. Journal of clinical and diagnostic research: JCDR, 9(9), WE01.
  • Herskovitz, I., & Tosti, A. (2013). Female pattern hair loss. International Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, 11(4).
  • Piraccini, B. M., & Alessandrini, A. (2014). Androgenetic alopecia. Giornale italiano di dermatologia e venereologia: organo ufficiale, Societa italiana di dermatologia e sifilografia, 149(1), 15-24.
  • Frequency of androgenetic alopecia. Source: https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/condition/androgenetic-alopecia/#frequency

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