Alopecia is quite a well-known term, and quite simply refers to partial or complete absence of hair in areas of the body where you would usually find it. But because of the different ways it can manifest, there is no such thing as straight up ‘alopecia’, and so there are several different forms of the condition, with their own characteristics and causes.
Androgenetic Alopecia: The most common form of alopecia, it is genetic and is experienced by up to half of all men and women by midlife. In men, it typically follows the patterns specified in the Hamilton-Norwood model, which sees a symmetrical loss or thinning of hair until the horseshoe shape of hair remains around the back and sides of the scalp. In women, it usually causes thinning across the top and back of the head, but often leaves the hairline unaffected.
Alopecia Areata: This form of alopecia is mostly associated with stress and auto-immune disorders, and is characterised by round patches of baldness in an otherwise complete head of hair.
Alopecia Telogen Effluvium: This form of alopecia is a very generic sort that affects all kinds of people and is brought on by all sorts of triggers. Men and women of all ages can experience alopecia telogen effluvium, and can be caused by anything from mild illness to chemotherapy to childbirth. This sort of alopecia is characterised by the increase in the number of hair follicles stuck in the resting phase that refuse to grow.
Traction Alopecia: This form of alopecia can be avoided, and is caused, as is evident, from traction on the hair. This means that particularly tight hairstyles, weaves, extensions or cornrows can put a lot of pressure on the scalp and can cause areas of baldness from pulling at and weakening the hair follicles. The appearance of traction alopecia can be reversed if caught early enough, but it is likely to be a long process of nursing your hair and scalp back to health.
Due to its unsightly appearance, many people either take the plunge and shave their heads entirely, or take to wearing hats, wigs or scarves to mask the patches caused by alopecia. However, whether it is caused by hormones, stress or medication, the appearance of alopecia can be helped greatly by scalp micropigmentation, which can blend areas of baldness into the rest of the hair.