Suffering from alopecia can be a scary and worrying experience, especially when different medical terms are being thrown out and you’re not entirely sure of what they mean. Losing your hair is a challenging prospect, but understanding and diagnosing the problem even more so.

If you have noticed your hair thinning or strands falling out, please see a medical expert. It may seem daunting, perhaps even embarrassing, but more than half of all women will experience noticeable hair loss – so you’re not alone. Just know that hair loss isn’t the diagnosis, but the symptom, and medical experts can help you figure out what the cause is.

Alopecia Areata

Alopecia Areata is a skin disorder, leading to hair loss in oval patches. Eva Proudman, MIT IAT from the Institute of Trichologists, explains, “1 person in 50 will suffer from this type of alopecia in their lifetime, which occurs when the body mistakes the hair follicle as a foreign body and attacks it from within”. Hair grows back in 12 months or less, but others can suffer from a severe version such as Alopecia Totalis.

Although experts once thought that this condition was caused by stress, more recent research has failed to prove this theory.

Alopecia Totalis

As we mentioned, Alopecia Totalis is a severer form of Alopecia Areata. The condition results in the complete loss of hair on the scalp. This condition can also cause brittle nails. It is caused by an immune system problem, where it attacks a healthy tissue.

Alopecia Totalis is common in people younger than 40 years old – there is no shame in hair loss at a young age.

The earlier you get this problem diagnosed, the higher the chances are of a positive outlook. This condition can be permanent or temporary, so see a medical expert as soon as you notice significant hair loss.

Alopecia Universalis

Alopecia Universalis is another condition that causes body hair loss – body hair, eyebrows, scalp hair and eyelashes. This can also cause pubic hair loss and hair in the inside of your nose. The signs of Alopecia Universalis are distinct, your hair loss will be smooth and non-scarring. The exact cause of this condition is unknown, but it is an autoimmune disease – when the immune system attacks its own cells.

Androgenetic Alopecia

Androgenetic Alopecia is a common hair loss condition amongst men and women. Amongst men, this condition can also be known as male-pattern baldness. The hair loss in men is in a well-defined pattern, beginning above both temples, whilst in women, the hair loss can be defined by hair thinning all over the head. These conditions don’t result in total baldness. There are multiple ways to treat this type of alopecia. When you consult with your dermatologist, they might prescribe an oral finasteride to help your hair grow thicker and healthier.

Traction Alopecia

Traction alopecia is caused by constant pulling on your hair in the same area over a long period of time. This can be caused by tying your hair into tight ponytails, buns or braids, especially if your hair is chemically-treated or you heat-style your hair. This condition can be reversed if you stop pulling on your hair, however, this needs to be done quickly as otherwise hair loss can be permanent. You will also notice itching, soreness, bumps and redness of the scalp as other symptoms.