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- Cutaneous lupus erythematous
- Central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia
- Fungal kerions
- Androgenetic (hereditary) alopecia
- Telogen effluvium
- Alopecia areata is an autoimmune process; the cause is unknown
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Stress that prompts growing hairs to rest and shed
- Illness or surgery
- Vitamin and nutrient deficiencies
- Prolonged fever
- Emotional/psychological stress
- Crash dieting
- Hormonal problems
- Allergic reaction to medications
- Radiation therapy
- Autoimmune disorders
- Systemic and discoid lupus erythematosus
Hair pulled too tightly by:
- Hair rollers
- Hot comb and oil treatments (can inflame the hair follicle and cause scarring)
- Twisting and pulling hair out due to psychiatric problems
- Male and female pattern baldness—Usually inherited
- Congenital disorders—Can include problems with the hair shaft
- Family history of baldness or hair loss
- Increased age (for male- and female-pattern baldness only)
- Poor nutrition
- Hair recedes
- Hair falls out at the top of the head
- Affects men and women
- Hair thins over the entire head
- Hair comes out when brushing
- Rapid hair loss
- Round or oval patches of hair loss
- Sometimes tiny hairs are visible in the patches
- Fingernails and toenails with pits
- Gradual shedding
- Hairs come out with gentle pulling
- Patches of hair loss
- Black dots in the patches
- Inflammation (such as redness)
- Gentle pulling on the hair
- Taking samples of scalp areas with inflammation to examine under a microscope
- Analyzing samples of hair
- Checking for hair loss on other parts of the body
- Hair care
- Medication use
- Your personal and family medical history
- Pregnancies, menopause, and monthly menstrual cycles
- Blood tests
- Biopsy of the scalp
- Drugs to correct a hormonal imbalance or deficiency
- Changing medication that may be causing the hair loss
- Antifungal shampoos and pills—To treat fungal infections
For men—A prescription drug (finasteride)
- Note: Pregnant women should not handle this medication. Even a small amount absorbed through the skin of the hands can cause birth defects in baby boys.
Over-the-counter medication (minoxidil)—Applied to the scalp daily (must be used on a regular basis)
- Note: If you have heart problems, discuss this drug with your doctor before using it.
- Steroid injection into your scalp to help speed-up hair re-growth in alopecia areata
- Topical immunotherapy—Apply an allergen to the scalp that causes local reaction like redness, itching, and also induces hair growth; done if other efforts do not work
- Phototherapy—Potential treatment for patients with alopecia areata; usually done over 4-6 months
- Hair transplant—Taking hair from the back and sides of the head and transplanting it in bald areas. As many as 300 grafts may be needed. You must return multiple times for the grafts.
- Scalp reduction with flaps—Cutting the scalp and pulling the areas with hair closer together.
- It could be minimal, moderate, or severe.
- It is transient and completely reversible after chemotherapy is done.
- Currently, there are no medications available that were shown to reduce the risk of alopecia associated with cancer treatments.
- Do not pull your hair tightly into a ponytail, cornrows, or curlers.
- Learn and practice stress-management techniques.
- Obtain medical care for acute illnesses and to manage chronic conditions.
- Eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
American Academy of Dermatology http://www.aad.org/
National Alopecia Areata Foundation http://www.naaf.org/
Alopecia areata. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/. Updated September 4, 2012. Accessed October 31, 2012.
Dorr VJ. A practitioner's guide to cancer-related alopecia. Semin Oncol. 1998;25:562.
Harries MJ, Sinclair RD, Macdonald-Hull S, Whiting DA, Griffiths CE, Paus R. Management of primary cicatricial alopecias: options for treatment. Br J Dermatol. 2008;159:1-22.
Hussein AM. Chemotherapy-induced alopecia: New developments. South Med J. 1993;86:489.
Mitchell AJ, Douglass MC. Topical photochemotherapy for alopecia areata. J Am Acad Dermatol. 1985;12:644.
Price VH. Treatment of hair loss. N Engl J Med. 1999;341:964.
Rawnsley JD. Hair restoration. Facial Plast Surg Clin North Am. 2008;16:289-297.
Rogers NE, Avram MR. Medical treatments for male and female pattern hair loss. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2008;59:547-566.
Scheinfeld N. A review of hormonal therapy for female pattern (androgenic) alopecia. Dermatol Online J. 2008;14:1.
Somani N, Bergfeld WF. Cicatricial alopecia: classification and histopathology. Dermatol Ther. 2008;21:221-237.
Taylor CR, Hawk JL. PUVA treatment of alopecia areata partialis, totalis and universalis: audit of 10 years' experience at St John's Institute of Dermatology. Br J Dermatol. 1995;133:914.
- Reviewer: Purvee S. Shah, MD
- Review Date: 10/2012 -
- Update Date: 10/31/2012 -