The term ‘Alopecia’ derives from the Greek ‘alopex’ which means fox. This animal is well known for losing its hair/fur in patches in autumn and spring. But there are lots of different types of alopecia…
For example, androgenetic alopecia (AGA, commonly referred to as ‘pattern baldness’) usually follows a pattern of receding hairline and hair thinning on the crown. It is different then the other types of alopecia because it is caused by hormones and genetic predisposition.
Scarring alopecia (cicatricial alopecia) is caused by any inflammatory process (burns, bacterial infections, ringworm, injury, autoimmune diseases) which may cause permanent damage to the hair follicle unlike other types of alopecia. Discoid lupus erythematosus and lichen planopilaris are possible causes of cicatricial alopecia.
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder where the hair follicles lose their immune privilege causing miscommunication between the follicles and your immune system. Unlike the other types of alopecia, alopecia areata may go into remission for periods of time.
Alopecia areata also has different classifications based on the severity of the loss:
- Alopecia areata: Hair loss in patches. Most commonly in a round circular pattern but the patches may also merge (alopecia areata reticular). Alopecia areata may also present itself localized to the sides and lower back of the scalp forming an alopecia areata ophiasis pattern (or its opposite, alopecia areata sisaipho).
- Alopecia areata incognita: Characterized by diffuse thinning of all hair on the scalp.
- Alopecia barbae: Hair loss that is limited to the beard area in men.
- Alopecia totalis: 100% loss of hair on the scalp.
- Alopecia universalis: Complete loss of hair on all hair-bearing areas