Hair Loss

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Hair loss, also called alopecia, is a condition in which you lose hair from your scalp (balding) and/or other parts of the body. Hair loss may be permanent or the hair may grow back, depending on whether scarring happens or not. The hair loss could appear as only a few small round or oval patches. You could also lose all the hair on your body.

The Impact of Hair Loss

It’s normal for everyone (both men and women) to experience some daily hair loss (of about 100 hairs). Hair loss can increase as you grow older. Hormonal changes can be a factor in both male and female pattern baldness, or baldness may run in the family. Skin diseases, stress, certain medical conditions and medications can also play a role in some types of hair loss.

    Managing Alopecia

    Dermatologist Mary Margaret Noland, MD, discusses the types of hair loss, their symptoms and treatments. View alopecia transcript.

    Types of Hair Loss

    The types of hair loss fall into two main categories:

    • Scarring alopecia (also called cicatricial alopecia), which is generally permanent
    • Non-scarring alopecia, which is reversible

    Hair loss conditions include:

    • Involutional alopecia: age-related hair thinning
    • Androgenetic alopecia: male and female pattern baldness
    • Alopecia areata: round, patchy hair loss related to an autoimmune
    • Alopecia totalis: total scalp baldness
    • Alopecia universalis: complete loss of hair on the scalp, body and face
    • Trichotillomania: a psychological disorder in which a person removes their own hair
    • Telogen effluvium: temporary hair thinning caused by changes in the growth cycle of hair
    • Lichen planopilaris: a scarring alopecia with inflammation, it is similar to lichen planus of the skin
    • Central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia: a type of scarring hair loss affecting the scalp
    • Lupus related alopecia: a type that may include both scarring and non-scarring hair loss and involves the skin of the scalp

    Treating Hair Loss at UVA

    Treatment options for hair loss will depend on the type and causes of your alopecia. Treatments range from simply monitoring the hair loss to medications that suppress the immune system.

    Many people choose cosmetic solutions to cover their hair loss, such as wigs, hair pieces or weaves. In many cases, the hair will grow back without treatment.

    Treatments may include:

    • Topical medicines (applied directly to the balding skin)
    • Oral medications
    • Hair transplantation (relocation of plugs of skin from parts of your own scalp containing active hair follicles to bald areas)