Alopecia: symptoms, causes and treatments

Alopecia: symptoms, causes and treatments

Partial or total hair loss, also called alopecia, is a very common condition. Here are the symptoms and possible remedies

Having thick hair that is always in order is the dream of men and women, however the action of atmospheric agents, the use of aggressive detergents or unclean tools can put a strain on the health of the scalp.

In fact, if you do not take the necessary precautions, you can find yourself with dry, brittle, itchy hair and dandruff. Or signs of alopecia may appear, which is a common pathology in many individuals and which causes gradual hair loss, up to (sometimes) baldness. We know well how this phenomenon (especially in women) – as well as dandruff and damaged hair – can represent both an aesthetic and a psychological problem.

So let's see together what alopecia is, what causes it, what the symptoms are and how to best treat it.

Index

  • What is that
  • Causes
  • Symptoms
  • Possible treatments
  • Can alopecia be prevented?

What is that

As indicated by the Italian Society of Trichology, alopecia consists in a decrease in hair from a quantitative and qualitative point of view (it appears less thick) or even in the fall of the same. There are different types of alopecia where causes and symptoms can differ from each other. Specifically, we can distinguish alopecia into:

  • scarring. In this case the hair follicles are irreversibly damaged;
  • not cicatricial. Here the hair follicles are not irreparably damaged, but there is a reduction / slowdown in hair growth.

Among the most common alopecia are:

  • alopecia areata which causes patchy hair loss, but also hair loss on other parts of the body;
  • total alopecia where hair loss occurs throughout the head;
  • universal alopecia (affects the hair of the entire body);
  • androgenetic alopecia. Often referred to as "baldness", it is the most common hair disease that mainly affects men, especially with advancing age.

Causes

Considering also the different types of alopecia, it is good to keep in mind that this pathology can be caused by various causes including factors:

  • genetic;
  • nutritional. Our body needs essential nutrients for the proper functioning of every single part of the body. However, these nutrients, often taken through food, can be deficient and also have a negative impact on the hair, as in the case of a lack of vitamin D or iron;
  • psychological. For example, stress and anxiety following surgery, pregnancy;
  • hormonal (thyroid dysfunction);
  • the use of some drugs, including those used for treatments such as chemotherapy.

To these can be added other causes, albeit less frequent, such as the presence of autoimmune diseases or scalp anomalies.

Symptoms

So how to realize the presence of alopecia? A valuable help consists in carefully observing the symptoms that we can do independently at the very first moment and which must be accompanied by the evaluation of a specialist for an exact diagnosis. The most important alarm bell is given by hair loss that can occur both on the head and on other areas of the body (arms, legs, eyebrows, beard).

For an accurate diagnosis it is important to evaluate the patient's history, symptoms, distribution of hair loss, the presence of scars or skin lesions. In the case of androgenetic alopecia, the analysis of hair loss is crucial, which for men tends to start at the temples or the crown (i.e. the vertex) and then become thinning (widespread or complete). For women, on the other hand, hair loss mostly affects the front and crown.

Other symptoms that may occur are: burning, itching, tingling, flaking.

Possible treatments

Once the case assessments and a diagnosis have been made, we proceed with personalized therapy. The treatment used in the case of alopecia varies according to the triggering causes. Most of the time, hair loss does not go away on its own so it is necessary to act as soon as possible. In general, treatments can be used that involve the administration of specific drugs, such as Minoxidil 5%, an active ingredient contained in various medicines and useful for stimulating hair and hair growth.

In cases of permanent alopecia, on the other hand, surgery or hair transplantation can also be considered.

Can alopecia be prevented?

The underlying causes of the development of alopecia are different and cannot always be prevented. Certainly following a healthy diet, which provides the nutrients necessary for hair health, can be of great help, as well as avoiding as much as possible stressful situations that can have a negative impact on the scalp.

The advice is therefore to take better care of your hair and if there is a significant loss, it is good to ask for the consultation of a trichologist.

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