The 4 Different Types of Hair Loss - How to Find Out Yours

by Raychel Agramon, RN, MPM July 14, 2020 0 Comments

The 4 Different Types of Hair Loss - How to Find Out Yours

Hair loss occurs differently from person to person. Some may experience gradual thinning, while some see clumps of fall out while they wash their hair. If you are suffering from this bothersome problem, then you might be on the lookout for a good solution. But before you do so, you first need to find out what type of hair loss you have – so you can get hold of the best treatments for your condition.

  • Androgenetic Alopecia
  • This is the most common form of hair loss. It is popularly known as male-pattern baldness, though it also occurs in women as female-pattern baldness.

    • Hair Loss Pattern

    In men, androgenetic alopecia starts above the temples. As the hair recedes, a characteristic known as “M” shape hair loss develops. The hair at the top of the head is also shed, which can lead to partial or full-on baldness.

    In women, widespread hair thinning is often experienced. Compared to men, the female hairline does not recede. Despite its name, female-pattern baldness rarely leads to total baldness.

    •   Causes of Hair Loss

    Androgenetic alopecia occurs due to the action of Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a type of male hormone (androgen). It is converted by the enzyme 5-alpha reductase from the circulating testosterone hormone in the body.

    DHT ends up miniaturizing the hair follicles, which can lead to the growth of thinner and shorter hair. It can also shorten the growth phase (anagen) of hair, so the new hairs that replace the old ones grow slower than usual. 

    • Treatments

    Because of the nature of the disease, androgenetic alopecia medications and supplements are geared towards minimizing the action of DHT. Common treatments include:

      • Minoxidil. This solution, when applied to the scalp, can stimulate hair growth.
      • Finasteride.  When taken orally, this pill can help block the action of DHT. 
      • Herbal remedies such as saw palmetto, green tea extract, ginkgo biloba, and spirulina,  to name a few. 

  • Telogen Effluvium
  • Telogen effluvium is a type of reactive hair loss that commonly occurs after a certain life event. When this condition is triggered, hair enters a resting phase of 2 to 4 months right before shedding. 

    This disorder normally affects 30% of all hairs, which could lead to a hair fall of 300 strands instead of the usual 100. Due to the length of the resting phase, hair loss usually occurs 2 to 4 months after the causative event.

    • Hair Loss Pattern

    The common complaint by people affected with telogen effluvium is hair thinning in certain areas. 

    Fortunately, this condition rarely leads to complete baldness as the fallen hairs are eventually replaced with new strands – albeit delayed.

    • Common Causes of Telogen Effluvium

    As mentioned, telogen effluvium is usually caused by a stressful life event. Potential triggers may include any of the following:

      • Extreme weight loss or change in diet 
      • Physical trauma
      • High fever or infection
      • Illnesses such as thyroid disorders, iron deficiency 
      • Psychological stress
      • Surgery 
      • Hormonal changes associated with childbirth or menopause
      • Intake of certain medications

    • Possible Treatments for Telogen Effluvium

    Unfortunately, no treatment has been scientifically proven to treat telogen effluvium. Experts can only recommend addressing the life event that may have caused the condition. For example, if your hair loss is caused by stress, your physician may recommend you to perform deep breathing, meditation, yoga, etc. 

  • Alopecia Areata 
  • Alopecia areata is a type of auto-immune disorder. It usually develops during childhood and teenage years. 

    • Hair Loss Pattern

    Alopecia areata leads to hair loss in small clumps. This may lead to some bald spots, with affected individuals seeing more hairs on their pillows, hairbrushes, or shower drains.  

    Rare forms of this condition include alopecia areata totalis, where complete head hair loss takes place. Another form is alopecia areata universalis, which affects the hairs of the entire body.

    • Causes of Alopecia Areata

    In alopecia areata, the immune system attacks the follicles. This leads to hair loss, with the degree of shedding varying from person to person.

    Like telogen effluvium, stress may contribute to the development of alopecia areata. 

    Alopecia areata has a genetic component. As such, a parent may pass the condition to his/her children. 

    • Treatments for Alopecia Areata

    There is no established cure for alopecia areata. Hair regrowth may happen, but it can vary from person to person. Some may have their hair back after 12 months, while some may experience strands falling out again a little while later. 

    In some cases, your dermatologist may prescribe the following medications:

      • Corticosteroids. These anti-inflammatory drugs are usually given to individuals suffering from auto-immune disorders such as alopecia areata. Unfortunately, steroid pills or ointments take a long time to work.

      • Topical immunotherapy. These chemicals, when applied directly to the scalp, can lead to an allergic reaction. While it could lead to an itchy scalp, this medication can also make the hair grow again. 

      • Minoxidil. Apart from being used in androgenetic alopecia, Minoxidil may also promote hair re-growth in individuals with alopecia areata. 

  • Traction Alopecia
  • Traction is a hair loss condition that commonly occurs in people who pull their hair tightly back. This problem was first identified in the 1900s by Greenland physicians who treated women who wore tight ponytails. 

    • Traction Alopecia Hair Loss Pattern

    Traction alopecia initially manifests as pimple-like bumps on the scalp. This can then progress to hair loss in the front and side areas of the scalp. In some cases, hair thinning may also affect the other parts of the head. 

    Apart from hair loss, traction alopecia may also lead to the following symptoms:

      • Scalp redness, soreness, or stinging
      • Itching
      • Scaling 
      • Blistering 
      • Inflammation of the hair follicles (folliculitis)

    • Causes of Traction Alopecia

    Traction alopecia is often brought about by the following hairstyles:

      • Tight ponytail
      • Braids, dreadlocks, and cornrows 
      • Extensions or weaves
      • Overnight use of hair rollers 

    Traction alopecia may also be triggered by the consistent application of heat or certain chemicals. 

    • Possible Treatments for Traction Alopecia

    Since traction alopecia is caused by wearing your hair too tight, the primary treatment is of course to change your hairstyle. Good practices include:

  • Not leaving your hair in a 'tight hairstyle' for a long period
  • Refraining from wearing dreadlocks, cornrows, or braids
      • Avoiding a ponytail hairstyle, or wearing one loosely if needed 

    Should you develop more problems, your physician may prescribe antibiotics for the blistering or steroids for the inflammation. You may also need to use Minoxidil for hair regrowth and/or biotin supplements to strengthen your strands. 

    Compared to other hair conditions, traction alopecia may be completely reversed with the right hairstyle and treatment.