Baldness is the name given to the most common type of hair loss, androgenetic alopecia, genetically caused hair loss. Male pattern baldness typically occurs on the top and front of the head. Female pattern baldness occurs on the top, usually widening at the part. Genetics and stress can exacerbate hair loss, but too often our immune system gets involved, and can be the culprit in the alopecia mystery.
Alopecia is the medical term for bald, and “areata” means patchy. Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition that attacks the skin follicles creating non-scarring hair loss, generally on the head and face. This condition affects millions of people, which often drives both women and men to shave their hair in order to minimize or hide this patchy disorder. One study showed that among the 71 patients with alopecia areata, males outnumbered females with a ratio of 2.5:1. The maximum incidence of alopecia areata was in the age group of 20-40 years (50.4%).
Alopecia has different shapes and sizes
- Alopecia areata totalis means you’ve lost all the hair on your head.
- Alopecia areata universalis is the loss of hair over your entire body.
- Diffuse alopecia areata is a sudden thinning of your hair rather than lost patches.
- Ophiasis alopecia areata causes hair loss in a band shape around the sides and back of your head.
The loss amount and shapes can be categorized 3 severity classifications:
- Mild symptoms would typically have 3 or less patches with no larger than 3 cm, or the loss is limited to the eyelashes.
- Moderate symptoms have more than 3 patches or a patch larger than 3 cm without total hair loss on your head and/or body.
- Severe symptoms would be classified as total hair loss on head or body, or a snake-shaped loss on the scalp or head.
Any type of alopecia can affect emotional health through shame and trauma. Highlighted during a recent awards show that went viral, hiding or lack of awareness about this disorder can be humiliating, and many are uneducated about its cause or existence. Awareness of any imbalance that affects millions of people should be shared and education of how to support your immune system is key in getting ahead of our health epidemic.
Many Dr. Autoimmune clients with thyroid disease report hair loss In fact, 74% of all thyroid patients report hair thinning or loss. When hormone production of T3 and T4 is disrupted, it affects the health and development of hair loss and growth. With proper diet, supplement and lifestyle shifts, your endocrine system can rebalance and your symptoms can dissipate or disappear altogether.
Like all autoimmunity, lupus causes widespread panic of inflammation which can include your skin. Inflammation creates stress which can manifest in many different organs. With proper diagnosis and support, you can get this inflammation under control, and your hair can grow back.
Other autoimmune diseases that could cause hair loss
- Alopecia universalis
- Graves’ disease
- Crohn’s disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
There is hope!
Don’t pull the rest of your hair out in frustration; there is hope! Dr. Autoimmune can help you get to the root cause of your symptoms and get your health to soar again. Rather than utilizing a symptom based approach, maybe looking deeper into the physiology and mechanisms can create lasting changes. It can take longer and requires diet and supplementation but functional medicine is “root cause medicine”, and investing in your health may be the spark you need to feel confident and radiate from the inside-out.