Hair loss Facts and Info

There are many medically related forms of hair loss not associated with the most common (androgenetic) hereditary male or female pattern baldness. Below is a list of some forms of Alopecia (hair loss; baldness) and resources where additional information can be obtained.

Alopecia Areata

An autoimmune disease that results in the loss of hair on the scalp and elsewhere on the body. There are three types:

  1. Alopecia Areata presents itself as round, smooth patches of various sizes.
  2. Alopecia Totalis presents itself as total loss of hair on the scalp.
  3. Alopecia Universalis is the rarest form of Alopecia Areata and presents itself as the loss of hair over the entire scalp and body.

Medically there is no cure for any form of Alopecia Areata but there are treatments that can be given that may stimulate hair growth in some individuals. In all cases, hair regrowth may occur even without treatment and even after many years.

If you would like to learn more about Alopecia Areata visit The National Alopecia Areata Foundation.

The M. D. Anderson Cancer Center is leading a study that will create a national registry of alopecia areata patients and their family members. The registry, sponsored by the National Institute of Arthritis & Musculoskeletal & Skin Diseases (NIAMS), is designed to collect research samples that will help determine the genetic components of alopecia areata. It is a tremendous opportunity to create a well-organized resource that will help researchers develop new treatments, diagnostic tools and prevention measures. Patients identified through the study will be first in line for clinical trials of any new therapies. If you have any form of Alopecia Areata, register today at: www.AlopeciaAreataRegistry.org

To learn more about Autoimmune Diseases visit The American Autoimmune Related Disease Association.

Cicatricial Alopecia

A diverse group of rare disorders that destroy the hair follicle, replace it with scar tissue, and cause permanent hair loss. In some cases, hair loss is gradual, without symptoms, and is unnoticed for long periods. In other cases, hair loss is associated with severe itching, burning and pain and is rapidly progressive. The inflammation that destroys the follicle is below the skin surface and there is usually no scar seen on the scalp. Affected areas of the scalp may show little signs of inflammation, or have redness, scaling, increased or decreased pigmentation, pustules, or draining sinuses. Cicatricial alopecia occurs in otherwise healthy men and women of all ages and is seen worldwide.

To learn more about the many forms of Cicatricial Alopecia visit the Cicatricial Alopecia Reasearch Foundation.

Telogen Effluvium

This type of diffuse hair loss in women is related to underlying medical conditions or trauma. Common triggers are childbirth, menopause, thyroid disease, lupus, anemia, bulimia, malnutrition, lichen planus, infection, surgery or acute stress. Telogen effluvium usually begins within six weeks to three months of the illness or event. In most cases, it is reversible once the illness or trauma heals, but it can become a chronic condition with individual triggers.

It has been said that hair loss (alopecia) due to chemotherapy is one of the most distressing side effects of chemo treatments. Some women have refused treatment due to the fear of living bald even if it is just temporary.

Although the experience of battling cancer can never be compared to that of just losing hair, the upside for survivors is knowing that the hair will return after treatment. While you are experiencing hair loss, the emotional trauma is still the same and the healing is always found in the process of rebuilding authentic self esteem. This is the common thread that links all Alopecians regardless of the cause or length of time spent dealing with the condition.

Chemotherapy  Hair Loss

Hair loss happens because the chemotherapy affects all cells in the body, not just the cancer cells.  The lining of the mouth, stomach, and the hair follicles are especially sensitive because those cells multiply rapidly just like the cancer cells. The difference is that the normal cells will repair themselves, making these side effects temporary. Here are a few facts to be aware of:

  • Hair loss does not occur with all chemotherapy.  Whether or not your hair remains as it is, thins or falls out, depends on the drugs and dosages.
  • Hair loss may occur as early as the second or third week after the first cycle of chemotherapy, although it may not happen until after the second cycle of chemotherapy.
  • Hair loss can be sudden or slow.
  • You may lose all of your hair or just some of it.
  • Often it comes out in clumps rather than an even pattern.
  • It is common for hair loss to include hair that grows anywhere including eyelashes, eyebrows, and even pubic hair.
  • In almost all cases of chemotherapy-induced hair loss, your hair will resume growth after treatments.
  • It may take from three to six months after therapy is completed or it may start growing back while you are still receiving chemotherapy.  Be prepared for your new hair to possibly have a slightly different color, texture, or curl.

*Information cited from www.chemocare.com

There are so many wonderful organizations that offer an array of services to cancer patients. Find a local organization and donate your time and or/money to get involved in the fight for the cure.

These are just a few of the many noteworthy cancer resources in North Carolina:

Pretty in Pink Foundation

NC Childrens Hospital

Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center

Duke/Raleigh Hospital Cancer Center