What is alopecia?

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Do you know what the medical term alopecia means? This means hair loss. However, it is different from the hair loss that everyone experiences every day. There are also different forms of alopecia with different causes.

Happy despite hair loss
Happy despite hair loss

Not all hair loss is created equal

  • When it comes to the types of hair loss, you need to distinguish between two basic types. On the one hand there is effluvium, which describes the degree of hair loss beyond the normal. You lose about 100 per day hair; if you lie significantly above this for a longer period of time, one speaks of effluvium.
  • Alopecia, on the other hand, can or does not have to be accompanied by excessive hair loss. This is understood to mean the appearance that you are probably familiar with as thinning hair. Alopecia also includes areas that are completely hairless.
  • A common cause of hereditary alopecia is hypersensitivity to testosterone. The hair follicle overreacts here, your hair grows shortened and it falls out. In this case, your hair will still grow, but will hardly be visible as it will fall out again immediately. Such hypersensitivity rarely occurs on the back of the head and neck, which is why a fringe of hair often forms.
  • You have probably heard of alopecia areata under the name "circular hair loss". Usually only the head is affected, in rare cases in men the beard as well. The hair here falls out in a circle. It is not yet clear why this form of hair loss occurs. It is believed that the immune system destroys hair; it is therefore an autoimmune disease. Often the disease goes away on its own after a certain period of time without treatment; in other affected people it spreads.
  • A special form of circular hair loss often affects middle-aged women. Here, there are small spots without hair that have a reddish sheen. The hair roots are destroyed here so that no new hairs form. The medical term is alopecia areata atropicans.
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  • Diffuse hair loss occurs when you lose hair all over your head. Women are particularly affected by this form. The causes for this are manifold. Fluctuations in the hormonal system, hypothyroidism, mineral deficiency, ongoing diets, illnesses or stress lead to this hair loss.

Treatment of alopecia

  • If you suffer from hair loss, it makes sense to see a doctor. Your family doctor will probably refer you to the dermatologist so that he can carry out further diagnostics.
  • In order to rule out possible deficiency symptoms, the doctor will take some blood from you and determine values like iron, zinc, selenium, calcium, thyroid hormones, kidney values, sex hormones and Immunoglobulins.
  • If there are abnormalities during the evaluation, the doctor has information about the direction in which to research further. Unfortunately, pinpointing the cause of alopecia is not always easy, so it can take a long time to diagnose.
  • If your hormone levels are disturbed, there are prescription remedies that can intervene. However, side effects such as libido and erectile dysfunction can occur here. Pregnant women would endanger the life of the unborn child if they were taken.
  • In the case of circular hair loss, drugs that contain cortisone are mainly used to reduce the inflammation on your scalp.
  • If you suffer from diffuse hair loss, you can get numerous remedies that contain B vitamins at the pharmacy. However, the effect of these agents has not been proven.
  • With many of the medicines you take for alopecia, you need to know that if you stop, hair loss will start again. So in theory, you'll have to take the medication for life.

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