Glossary On Types of Hair Loss

There are more than 40 different types of hair loss known till date – some of them very common, others quite rare. It is not at all mandatory to know about each of these; however, knowing your type can help you to understand how well your hair loss can respond to treatment. Few of the common varieties of hair loss are discussed here:

  • Androgenetic alopecia (AGA) – This type of hair loss can affect both men and women and is caused by the hormone DHT (Dihydrotestosterone) which is a male hormone. It accounts for almost 95% of the cases of hair loss. Androgenetic alopecia is genetically determined and can be classified as:
    • Male Pattern Baldness (MPB) - This is typically characterized by a receding hairline at the temples and balding at the top of the head.
    • Female Pattern Baldness (FPB) - Also known as Alopecia Diffusa, this is characterized by thinning of hair at the front, sides and crown of the scalp
  • Involution alopecia – With advancing age, more and more hair follicles go into the resting phase. This leads to gradual thinning of hair and is called involution alopecia.
  • Telogen effluvium - Severe stress may lead to noticeable shedding of hair – a large number of hair strands prematurely enter into the resting (telogen) phase and are thereafter shed. This may sometimes occur even 3 to 6 months after the initial stressor. The stressor could be anything like a heart attack, severe illness, high fever, sudden weight change, major surgical procedure, childbirth, termination of pregnancy, etc.
  • Anagen effluvium – This is the pathologic loss of hair in the anagen (growth) phase, classically caused by radiation therapy to the head and systemic chemotherapy. It tends to be sudden in nature.
  • Drug induced – Some of the drugs that can lead to loss of hair are Allopurinol (used for the treatment of Gout); Heparin, Coumarin (blood thinners); Clofibrate, Gemfibrozil (Cholesterol lowering drugs) and most of the chemotherapy medications
  • Alopecia Areata – Patchy loss of hair, especially from the scalp
  • Traumatic:
    • Traction alopecia - Regularly wear pigtails, braids or tight hairstyles causes loss of hair from the part where hair is pulled tightly leading to traction alopecia.
    • Trichotillomania - This is a psychological disorder seen more frequently in children where they tend to pull out one's own hair leading to hair loss.
  • Other types of Hair loss
    • Due to presence of Infections: Syphilitic Alopecia (caused by systemic syphilis), Tinea Capitis (a localized fungal infection of the scalp)
    • Generalised atrichia – Caused by the presence of a recessive hairless gene, this is an extremely rare form of hair loss.
Hair Loss