Alopecia is a medical term used to describe significant hair loss, to an extent that it causes baldness. It start outs in small patches of hair loss, which can appear on scalp, beard or any area of the body and in severe cases almost all of the body hair are lost. Most people believe that it is a heredity problem that runs in families. No doubt 95% of alopecia patients have a family history, but alopecia hair loss can be attributed to several other factors as well, such as aging, overstyling, anemia, physical and/or emotional stress, any underlying medical conditions, medications and lifestyle.
Here is a list of various factors that can cause alopecia:
Medical conditions that can cause Alopecia
Several medical conditions that can cause alopecia hair loss include:
- Anemia (low hemoglobin or red blood cell count)
- Skin infections or illnesses such as typhoid
- Trichotillomania (neurotic disorder in which the patient pulls out his/her own hair without any reason)
Medications that can cause alopecia
Certain types of medications can also cause significant hair loss. These include:
- Anti-hypertensives (blood pressure medications)
- Heart medications
- Anabolic steroids
- Blood thinners
- High-dose vitamin A
- Birth control pills
Hair care habits that can cause alopecia
Your lifestyle and the way you style your hair can also be a factor contributing to alopecia hair loss. Hair care habits that can cause thinning hair or baldness include:
- Harsh hair styles
- Brushing or combing hair while still wet
- Excessive shampooing (it dries out your scalp and ultimately hair follicles)
- Excessive use of hair accessories (hairpins, clips, rubber bands etc.)
- Excessive use of hair dyes
- Excessive blow drying
- Frequent chemical treatments, such as straightening, perming, curling etc.
Some other conditions that can cause alopecia are:
- Extreme weight loss
- Poor diet
- Physical or emotional stress
Alopecia caused by all these above listed conditions is reversible and in about 90 percent of people with these conditions the hair returns within a few weeks or months after the underlying cause has been addressed. However, genetic and heredity alopecia (also known as androgenic alopecia) cause permanent damage to the hair follicles and hair does not regrow at its own. Over the counter shampoos and conditioners and oral medications/ supplements claim to help regrow a receding hairline, but are not a viable options to treat such type of alopecia.
Heredity hair loss and the one caused by aging are irreversible since in these cases the hair follicles are permanently damaged. Whereas, hair loss caused by all other factors listed above, the hair returns as soon as the underlying cause is treated.