Alopecia areata

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss in the patient. The body’s immune system attacks the hair follicles, which makes the hair follicles stop producing hair. Under the category alopecia areata there is spot baldness, where the patient has bald sections in the hair; alopecia totalis, where all the hair on the head falls out; and alopecia universalis, where the hair loss has spread to the entire body.

The disease is genetically conditioned, and scientists have not been able to determine what triggers alopecia areata. If you’re a smoker, you are at greater risk of developing alopecia areata if it’s in your genes. The longer the hair follicles are in the dormant phase, the harder it is for the hair to grow back. PRP may alleviate the symptoms of the disease and stimulate hair growth.

Back of patient's head who has alopecia areata spot baldness

Traction alopecia

Traction alopecia is when the hair follicle is subjected to trauma. The trauma occurs when the hair is slowly pulled out, for example due to tight hairstyles such as tightly tied-back braids, damaging the hair follicles. If this is discovered in time, the hair may grow back. If any length of time passes, scar tissue may develop and the damages will become permanent.

Trichotillomania

Trichotillomania is a mental impulse disorder where the patient has an unconscious or conscious compulsion to pull out, twist, or break their own hair. The condition isn’t particularly known, which may create a feeling of alienation for those suffering from it.

In cases where the patient has pulled out hair during any length of time, this may have damaged the hair follicles enough for hair growth to cease or disappear completely. When the individual is free of the compulsive behavior, bald spots may be covered using hair transplants.

Female frontal fibrosis or frontal fibrosing alopecia

With frontal fibrosing alopecia, the hair follicles are affected by an inflammation that breaks down the hair follicles and they stop producing hair. This causes the hairline to recede. The process is slow but constant. In some cases, it levels out after some time. The disease is often mistaken for traction alopecia, but they are two different diagnoses.

When the hair follicles die, scar tissue is formed under the skin. The scar tissue has no blood supply, which makes it impossible to trigger hair growth using PRP. Therefore, the only solution for patients with frontal fibrosing alopecia is a hair transplant.

Illustration of female frontal fibros where hairline slowly moves upward

Diseases that affect the hair

There are a number of diseases that impact the hair even if they’re not directly tied to hair loss, such as alopecia areata or frontal fibrosing alopecia. Examples include cancer, where the medication often causes hair loss, and thyroid issues, which mostly affect women. Here you can read more about some of these.

Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism – a disruption to the thyroid gland

The thyroid gland produces hormones that affect major bodily functions, such as metabolism, burning of calories, body temperature, and pulse. It is a small gland placed on the front of the throat. When the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones, the patient may get hypothyroidism. When it produces an excess of hormones, the patient may get hyperthyroidism. The immune system affects the thyroid gland and causes the function of the thyroid to slowly change. This may have a major impact on the body’s general state, including the quality of hair and skin.

If the patient suspects disruptions to the thyroid gland, we can administer a blood test on-site at some of our clinics. You will have a result within a few days of the blood test.

Atheroma – a sebaceous cyst in the scalp

Atheroma is a harmless cyst containing tallow. The cyst is created when the channel from the sebaceous gland becomes clogged and the tallow is locked in. As said, it is harmless, but it may be esthetically awkward. Atheroma rarely goes away on its own, and usually a minor surgical procedure is required.

An atheroma may occur anywhere on the body, but most commonly in areas where hair grows, such as the scalp. It doesn’t have any direct impact on hair loss except that it may be esthetically awkward. The skin covering the atheroma is completely smooth and has the same color as the rest of the skin. During examination, you can usually see a rounded or oval marking tethered to the skin, but slightly mobile inside the skin.