Alopecia is hair loss and can affect men and women. When it occurs in women, the fall pattern is different. Although this problem is more common in men, about 30% of the world’s female population suffers from it . In Spain, it is estimated that around 20% of women between the ages of 30 and 40 suffer from some degree of alopecia, even if it is low.
Hair loss is something natural, since it is part of its growth process and it is necessary for the hair to fall so that new ones can replace it . However, the problem of alopecia arises when this regeneration does not occur at the proper rate, causing those affected to lose all or part of their hair. Hair growth is regulated by the hormonal system and the appearance of alopecia is usually related to hair irregularities. Stress situations, hormonal alterations derived from other pathologies, inherited genetic predispositions or the simple passage of time are usually some of the most common reasons that cause the appearance of alopecia.
Types of female alopecia
We can fundamentally distinguish two types of female alopecia, easily differentiated by the way they manifest.
On the one hand, we have androgenic alopecia , which is the most common in women. In this case the hair becomes thinner and volume is lost on the top of the head . Hair loss is a consequence of hormonal problems that weaken the hair follicles and these in turn produce less hair. This decrease in production means that the hair that falls out does not renew quickly, giving rise to small areas without hair, which if left untreated can lead to baldness.
Androgenic alopecia is usually closely related to three aspects: the seasonal replacement of the hair, genetic inheritance or hormonal factors such as those that occur during pregnancy, lactation or menopause. External factors have also been identified that can affect hair loss, both in women and men. We are referring to stress and poor nutrition .
The second type of female alopecia is known as alopecia areata and affects the scalp, but only in some localized areas . It is an autoimmune disease that can have different conditions, including genetics, and certain triggers, mainly stress, changes in life and infections, especially of the mouth and teeth. Having said all this, it is not known exactly what causes it.
Alopecia areata is characterized by the appearance of circular areas, large or small, in which all the follicular units (those that produce hair) stop producing hair. There are different degrees, from being limited to small areas without hair until these come together giving rise to larger areas of alopecia and, in the most severe cases, causing the loss of all the hair and even all the body hair.
There is another type of alopecia called scarring alopecia , with causes that are also little known, but most likely with an autoimmune character. It is a disease in which treatments, similar to those for areata, do not have great effects and for which transplantation is also contraindicated.
How to treat alopecia
To treat alopecia, the first thing to do is seek the help of a dermatologist, if he is specialized in trichology, all the better. Trichology is, broadly speaking, the science of the scalp and hair, both healthy and affected by some pathology.
One of the methods to treat alopecia is hair grafting . To do this, the expert will assess various aspects, such as whether the hair loss has stabilized or not or whether the alopecia is diffuse or localized. In some cases there are medical treatments that can delay the graft.
In the case of alopecia areata, the treatment is completely different. What is most used are corticosteroids, immunosuppressants, contact immunotherapy, or biological treatments, among others. Platelet-rich plasma and mesotherapy are also used.
It may happen that the alopecia does not respond to treatments or that it regresses spontaneously and the hair grows back.