What is Alopecia?

The word alopecia originates from its Latin term meaning “baldness in all forms.”  Alopecia is a physical condition that affects the hair follicle, causing partial or total hair loss.  This type of hair loss strikes both men and women of any age or ethnic group.  While this condition does not threaten the life of its patient, the hair loss from Alopecia can be responsible for many forms of emotional and psychological trauma due to negative social stigma associated with baldness, in particular for women and young people.

Alopecia exists in three types.

1.) Alopecia areata which apeears as partial hair loss. People with this symptom will find their hair falling out in small separate clumps while the remainder of the scalp may be covered with normal healthy hair.

2.) Alopecia totalis involves the loss of most or all of the hair on the head. Most men who complain of what is sometimes referred to as androgenic or male pattern baldness have this condition. “Androgenic” describes the various male hormones that control the appearance and development of masculine characteristics, like facial hair.

3)  Alopecia Universalis is a condition where a person suffers from the loss of all body hair, leading to missing eye brows, eyelashes, facial hair, body hair. and complete hair loss on the top of the scalp.

Both adult men and women who experience these types of hair loss can relate to the emotional suffering and mental anxiety associated with their condition.  Children and teenagers  can also suffer from this hair condition.  Younger patients often experience more difficult social hardship and emotional scarring than any adult who can normally handle the emotional trauma better because it is more culturally “acceptable” for mature men to lose their hair loss.

Although Alopecia does not directly cause physical health problem, it effects that cause hair loss can be responsible for emotional and psychological problems such as depression, low self-esteem, and a general sense of inadequacy. Alopecia, as a result, is a debilitating emotional condition for many people.

About 2.5 million of the American population are stricken by alopecia areata and researchers estimate that about 1% of the American population will suffer from it before they turn 50 years old.  Currently, doctors do not have a cure for Alopecia and believe that it is an autoimmune disorder, meaning that a person’s body would be producing antibodies which attack the hair follicle.  Therefore, present day treatment are limited to cosmetic alternatives.  However, scientists are still conducting research for a cure, funded by various private and public funded organizations such as the national Alopecia Areata Foundation as well as the National Institute of Arthritis & Musculoskeletal & Skin Diseases.