Types of Alopecia
There are three primary alopecia classifications, a rare form that is tied to inflammation, and other variants that are referred to less commonly in context with disease discussion.
Primary Types of Alopecia
Alopecia Areata Patchy: The most common variation, this results in patchy hair loss that is mainly on the scalp or areas of the body with hair. Localized cases with less than 50% involvement are typically self-limited. Many patients experience spontaneous regrowth in a few months, with or without treatment.
Alopecia Areata Totalis: This refers to cases in which the scalp incurs complete hair loss. The percentage of patients with this type appears to decrease with every decade of life. In an estimated 30% of patients, complete hair loss occurs within 6 months after onset of the disease.
Alopecia Areata Universalis: A rare form, this affects the entire scalp and body with complete hair loss. Studies indicate this type affects less than 1% of patients.
Rare Scarring Type of Alopecia
Cicatricial Alopecia: This refers to a group of rare disorders that destroy the hair follicles and replace them with scar tissue, thereby causing permanent hair loss. In more aggressive cases, the hair loss is accompanied by burning, itching, and pain. This type of alopecia is further classified by the type of inflammatory cells that destroy the hair follicle during the active stage of the disease. The inflammation can predominantly involve either lymphocytes or neutrophils. This type differs from the three primary types of alopecia in that a majority of patients have no family history of a similar condition.
The first step in the diagnostic process is a scalp biopsy. The type and degree of inflammation, location, and other changes to the scalp are required to accurately diagnose cicatricial alopecia. The biopsy helps determine the degree of activity and guide appropriate therapy.
Other Types of Alopecia
Alopecia Barbae: This variation only affects the beard and can present as a single bald patch or more extensive hair loss across the entire beard area.
Androgenetic Alopecia: Known commonly as male pattern baldness or female pattern baldness, this is thinning of the hair to an almost transparent state that affects men and women. It is the most common type of progressive hair loss and is believed to have strong genetic and hereditary links.
Stats and Facts About Alopecia Types
Alopecia progresses to alopecia totalis in an estimated 5-10% of patients.
When the condition progresses to alopecia totalis or alopecia universalis, the chance for full regrowth decreases substantially.
Androgenetic alopecia in men has been associated with coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, enlargement of the prostate, prostate cancer, diabetes, and obesity.
In women, androgenetic alopecia is associated with an increased risk of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
More Information on Alopecia
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