What is Alopecia?
Alopecia is a general term meaning hair loss. Three common types of alopecia we see in the office are androgenetic alopecia, alopecia areata and hair loss from iron deficiency. Androgenetic alopecia occurs in patients with a family history of hair loss. The presentation in men differs from that in women. In men, androgenetic alopecia may start as thinning of the hair on top of the head or recession on the hairline on the temples or both. In women it presents as overall thinning on the top of the head. Alopecia areata on the other hand typically presents as coin shaped, smooth patch of hair loss. This typically affects the scalp but may also occur on other hair bearing areas such as the brows and eyelid and chin. Mostly localized, an uncommon variant involves all hair bearing areas. This condition is not contagious and occurs in otherwise healthy individuals, it occurs because one’s immune system is attacking the hair follicles. Lastly iron deficiency hair loss presents as excessive shedding of the hair leading to general decreased density of the hair. Women are more susceptible and causes are varied, from increased iron loss to decreased iron intake. Hair loss is complex and requires accurate diagnosis before exploring many different treatment options.