What is Alopecia?
Alopecia refers to medically related hair loss. Alopecia, in most cases, does not pose significant health risks by itself (the exception being the increased risk of skin cancer on the scalp in patients who have lost their scalp hair – an important blocker of damaging UV light), but many people seek treatment for their alopecia, because of the social stigma associated with irregular or premature hair loss.
There are several different types of hair loss including androgenic alopecia, alopecia areata, scarring alopecia and telogen effluvium to name a few. The causes and treatments for the different types of alopecia are specific for that type of hair loss.
For example, with respect to alopecia areata, while we don’t fully understand this type of alopecia, we do understand that it occurs when the immune system attacks the hair follicles (structures that contain the roots of the hair), causing either temporary or permanent hair loss. Hair loss with alopecia areata can occur on the head or anywhere on the body.
There are a variety of treatment options for alopecia areata, some medical and some cosmetic.
Medical treatments include
- Topical and oral medications
- Intralesional and intramuscular cortisone injections
- Immunotherapy that helps hair to grow (DPC)
Different types of alopecia have different treatment options; the best treatment option will depend not only on the patient’s particular presentation but also on the particular condition being treated.
Dermatologists are specially trained to diagnose and treat disorders of the hair such as the different types of alopecia, in addition to diseases of the skin and nails.