What is Alopecia?
Alopecia is hair loss from the scalp or body. The most common forms of alopecia are Alopecia Areata and traction alopecia.
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease where your immune system begins to attack your hair follicles, which is where your hair starts to grow.
Alopecia areata occurs because your immune system mistakes the hair follicles for viruses and bacterias.
Traction alopecia happens when you have excessive pulling on the hair shaft. Traction alopecia occurs mostly in women and men with highly textured hair.
This form of hair loss can occur when you have individual braids that are a little too tight on your edges. If the tension is prolonged, it can cause the hair follicle to stop growing which can incite permanent hair loss.
How Do You Get Alopecia
There is not just one way to get alopecia. Some other causes include hormonal or chemical imbalances within your body or external things such as hairstyles. Extreme stress can ignite alopecia in some cases. Alopecia can occur because specific systems can shut down when you are suffering from severe stress and cause your hair not to grow or begin to thin out.
Other autoimmune diseases even chemicals such as those used in chemo can cause alopecia as well.
Pregnancy is also another cause of alopecia. During pregnancy, your hair can become thicker due to hormonal changes, and about two to four months after giving birth this hair begins to shed as your hormones change again.
Putting your hair up in a super tight ponytail or bun can cause alopecia.
Different Types of AlopeciaMost people know of alopecia areata and traction alopecia, but there are also a few other forms of alopecia.
- Alopecia Totalis: a progressive form of alopecia areata that results in permanent hair loss.
- Alopecia Universalis: This is the most advanced form where all the hair on your body is lost.
- Androgenetic Alopecia: This form is also known as male or female pattern baldness. This type of alopecia is where your hair thins to the point where it almost seems transparent. It is genetic and also the most common form of progressive hair loss.
- Postpartum Alopecia: This is a temporary hair loss that occurs at the end of pregnancy. This form of alopecia is usually sudden, and may sometimes be excessive and is caused by hormone imbalances due to giving birth.
The primary symptom of alopecia is hair loss, but there may be other symptoms. Though hair loss is the primary symptom, patterns of hair loss may vary.
Sometimes clumps may fall out, or you may find strands on your pillow or several strands may fall out while washing your hair.
Your fingernails and toenails may become pitted. They may also change shape or color and may have a sandpaper texture. In some cases, a person's eyebrow hairs and eyelashes will begin to shed as well.
Alopecia is diagnosed through a physical examination and a look through your medical history. Your doctor will ask questions about your hair loss and look at patterns of hair loss on your scalp, as well as an analysis of your scalp.
They may also conduct another test such as hair analysis and a blood test. During the hair analysis, doctors look at hair strands under a microscope and may even take a sample of your scalp.
How Is It Treated
In most cases, hair grows back within a year, so some people decide to wait for their hair to grow back but if you would like to speed up the process there are some treatments and medications available.
In 10% of cases, the hair will never grow back. Permanent loss of hair or damage occurs when you have a family history of alopecia, get alopecia before puberty, or if you already have another autoimmune disease.
There are no “cures” for alopecia, but there are treatments.
One of the most common treatments is an injection of the steroid corticosteroids into the scalp or skin this is done every four to six weeks. There is also a topical corticosteroid which is an ointment that is applied to the skin or scalp.
There is also Minoxidil or Rogaine which is the only FDA approved drug for hair loss. Rogaine is an over the counter drug that is available in two and five percent formulas. Higher doses can sometimes cause facial hair growth, so doctors don’t usually recommend it for women.
You use it by massaging the ointment into your scalp twice a day, and regrowth usually appears within six months. The effects of this medication only last as long as you are using it as directed.
Finasteride (also known as Propecia and Proscar) is another oral medication that is used to treat alopecia, but most doctors prescribe it to postmenopausal patients because this drug is also used to treat an enlarged prostate.
Increased hair growth is a side effect of Finasteride. Proscar has a higher dosage and is usually more efficient.
It is usually not given to women of childbearing age because this medication can sometimes cause congenital disabilities. It slows down hair loss by up to 75%. This medicine works as long as you are taking the medication.
Other Forms of Treatment
Lasers are an alternative for patients that had no success with Minoxidil and Finasteride.
Some doctors will prescribe a Laser Comb which costs between $100-$800. This comb works to repair the damage, stop and prevent thinning as well as speeding up hair growth. The HairMax Laser Comb is the only laser comb that is FDA approved, but there are several other combs that you can buy much cheaper online and over the counter. You use it by gliding it through your hair for fifteen minutes. Results are usually seen within six months.
Hair transplants are used when hair loss is concentrated in specific areas. This operation is done by removing hair follicles from more dense areas to areas that are thinning. But this procedure is rarely used because most cases of alopecia spread throughout the entire scalp.
If you remember those Bosley commercials from back in the day, this company restores costumers' air through transplants. They create a personalized solution to restore your hair. The take healthy hair follicles and transplant them to thinning areas in your hair.
There are also thickening tricks that can be used to make your hair appear as though no loss has occurred. Some people choose to use specific serums and oils that stimulate hair growth. You can even create a DIY mixture of oils rather than buy something from the store.
Trying to cover up your hair loss is an option if you would rather wait for your hair to grow back instead of taking medications. These hairstyles are also great if you suffer from alopecia due to stress. While going through recovery, it is important to remember that your beauty does not only lie within her hair.
It’s important to remember that beauty is not only what's on the outside but the inside as well. And no matter what your hair looks like you can still look and feel beautiful. But if your hair ever has you feeling down girl go on and treat yourself buy yourself a cute outfit or splurge on some makeup or go out and buy those shoes you’ve been wanting.
These things will not cure or even treat your alopecia, but they may help with boosting your confidence which is especially important. But if you are looking for a way to hide your hair loss here are a few hairstyles that will make you look beautiful on the inside and out.
Going bald is a very bold move. Often women hide behind their hair and going bald removes that.
Going bold can boost your confidence cause you learn to become more comfortable with yourself because you have no hair to hide behind.
Bald hair is currently trending too. Celebrities from Sanaa Lathan to Kristen Stewart are all shaving their heads.
Going bald makes a very bold statement and looks great on every and anyone. You can even accessorize with earrings, scarves, and hats.
You can make your hair more fun by dyeing it or adding designs to your hair if you ever get bored.
Temporary Color Spray
The color spray is perfect if you have traction alopecia around your edges or if you already have super short hair. The temporary color spray has fibers in it that mirror your hair and is perfect for men and women.
The color spray is a natural temporary fix, and you can buy this from almost any drug store.
TWA or a teeny weeny afro is also perfect when you want a low cut but don’t want to be all the way bald. You can even use temporary color spray on areas that are less dense.
This style is effortless to maintain and is perfect for anyone who does not want to invest a ton of time taking care of their hair.
Going natural is a massive change when you are used to the creamy crack. Changing the way you do your hair is a big decision and should be well thought out before taking any action.
Though you may be crying over the loss of your length, it will be worth it at the end. If you are suffering from damaged or permed hair going natural may help to treat your alopecia.
Perms can be a cause of alopecia because at times perms can make your hair thinner or weaken your hair shafts.
Even if your hair remains thin after going natural, it will be easier to hide balding or thinning areas with natural hair. Throughout the transitioning process make sure to take extra good care of your hair to help stimulate hair growth and prevent more thinning.
Switch Up Your Part
Thinning parts is usually one of the first signs of alopecia. A thinning part is when you notice fewer hair strands where you part your hair.
An easy way to combat this issue is by parting your hair differently. If you are used to the middle part, you can switch it up to a side part for something new.
You also get bangs or put your hair up in a ponytail. There even some root touch up products that will make your roots appear fuller.
You can just cornrow your healthy hair back and treat the affected areas with oils or ointments. And there is more than one type of wig.
You can get a virgin, crochet, and synthetic wigs. You can even get a half wig or three-quarters wig. These wigs allow you to leave your natural hair out with a wig in the back.
Half wigs usually lay from the crown of your head to your nape.
There are also U-part wigs U-part and Half wigs come in both synthetic and human hair as well with several different colors or textures that look similar to how your natural hair looks.
With a wig, you are not only limited to wigs that mirror natural hair, but you can also get wigs that have cornrows, single braids, faux locs, and twist hairstyles.
The best part about a wig is that you can take it off every day so you can treat your alopecia daily or as directed by your doctor.
Weaves are another great protective style many people use when trying to grow their hair out. You can create a braiding pattern and then attach a netting weave cap. The net creates a barrier between your natural hair and tracks which prevents damage to your natural hair.
You can also have leave out if you are not yet comfortable with wearing a closure or a frontal. But if you are a part of the closure and frontal wave you can add these to your weave for added protection to prevent added heat damage.
Frontals and closures will allow you to cover and protect your hair underneath. Using a netting cap also will enable you to keep your sew-in longer, and there are even caps infused with oils to keep your hair hydrated.
This style is perfect when you want single braids but do not want the added tension to your hair or edges. The best part about crochet braids is that they come and several different styles of colors and textures so that it is possible to achieve almost any hairstyle.
Some styles include box braids, Senegalese twist, dreads, faux locs, and styles that are not braids such as deep twists, jerry curls, and many others.
If you suffer from alopecia in the center of your head and want braids, some hair stylists will create single braids only the perimeter of your head and then cornrow the center and add the crochet braids so that your braids can still appear to be full.
Ponytails and Buns
Ponytails and buns are super easy and cute styles to achieve. These styles are also perfect for any occasion from going to the gym to a fancy dinner.
And if you want a longer ponytail or a ponytail of a different texture you can always add a clip-in ponytail and Bun. Or you can add leftover tracks and clips-ins to add extra volume to your hair.
Just make sure that you do not pull your hair back to tight because this can cause your edges to become thinner. But if you want a sleeker look without the added tension you can always use gel or edge control to have your updo looking snatched.
This style will make it look like you have not lost a strand of hair. You may need to get a professional to achieve this style, but it always looks bomb in the end.
Hairstylist created camouflage cornrows for women who suffered from alopecia or hair loss but still want to achieve specific cornrow styles such as straight backs and more intricate styles like buns or ponytails.
Hairstylist achieves these looks by making cornrows close together and then stitching them to one another to ensure that the braids will stay in place.
Clip-ins and Tape-ins
Clip-ins and tape-ins are a great way to add extra volume to thinning areas. These are perfect if you are not comfortable with wearing a weave or wig. You can apply these directly to the affected area.
They come in several different colors and textures. If you can not find your exact color, you can always die your clip-ins as long as you purchase some that are made of human hair.
You may be thinking to yourself what if I do not want to wear a wig or weave? What are my other options?
Do not worry you are not out of options. You can still hide your thinning spots by using accessories.
You can channel Rihanna Wild's thoughts vibes with a super cute scarf. Or cover up your whole head with a bun in the front or back. Some people think scarves should only be worn to sleep, but girls out of her are slaying in scarves.
Another way to completely cover your hair is by wearing a hat. Hats are a perfect accessory for working out or hanging out with friends.
Headband you can brush your hair back which can help to hide bald spots. These accessories don’t work for every circumstance but are helpful when you need a quick fix.
We know that hair loss especially Alopecia can be stressful. Hopefully, these tips can help ease the stress.
Know some creative ways that you can combat hair loss? Share them below in the comments. We'd love to hear from you!