What is alopecia?

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Alopecia is a medical condition that involves hair loss particularly in the scalp area.  Other parts of the body that has hair may also be affected but alopecia is more common and pronounced in the scalp.  Also known as alopecia areata, this condition involves rapid loss of hair in a patch-like pattern.  This condition affects both sexes but most cases involve men who may either have total loss of hair or alopecia patches in various parts of their scalp.

There are various instances that cause alopecia.  One common cause is genetic in nature.  Many cases of alopecia areate involve a family history of the disease.  People who have parents or grandparents that have gone bald because of this disease are also more likely to inherit the condition.  There is also an auto-immune type of alopecia areata.  In this case, the antibodies that people have mistakenly attack the hair follicles and treat them as foreign bodies or viruses. With this mechanism, the hair follicles will not be able to grow and develop normally resulting to the specific pattern of baldness which is characteristic of alopecia.  The pattern of baldness is either round or oval-shaped with the skin being smooth and shiny.  In some people, the hair loss is rapid and affects the whole scalp area while other people may develop small patches in some areas only.  In some cases, alopecia may also result from certain drugs or existing medical conditions.

For non-genetic types of alopecia, the condition may respond well to some medications like those that contain minoxidil. This particular substance can help stimulate the hair follicles and make them produce or re-grow some hair strands.  There are also patients who may respond better to steroid treatment.  In extreme or severe cases of hair loss, hair transplant technology is the only option for treatment of alopecia areata.

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