While every woman loses their hair in different ways and in different stages, there are a number of types of medically recognized alopecia that have been classified. These are merely categories to help us understand the broad umbrella that is Female Hair Loss.
Alopecia Areata- The most common variation of all the autoimmune diseases. The hair loss presents itself in round smooth patches of various sizes. Considered an autoimmune disease, in which the immune system designed to protect the body from foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria, mistakenly attacks the hair follicles. (US Department of Health and Human Services) Re-growth may occur without treatment or even after many years, however it is common for those with areata to go through stages of hair regrowth, even full re-growth, only to face losing the hair all over again. Most often areata begins in childhood, however it can happen later in life. This cycle of re-growth and loss and the unknown makes those living with areata doubly devastating. Hair Falls out in small, round patches ranging in size. It is common that once you discover a patch and are diagnosed by a doctor, the individual loses his/her hair in a short period of time, even as quickly as three weeks.
Alopecia Areata Totalis- The 2nd form of alopecia areata, Totalis is the total loss of hair on head.
Alopecia Areata Universalis- The third type of areata, Unversalis is the full loss of hair on the head, face, and body, including eyebrows and eyelashes.
Androgenetica Alopecia or Female Pattern Hair Loss- the most common type of hair loss seen in women, known to be caused by an inherited gene. It’s onset occurs at puberty in genetically predisposed individuals. Some in the medical world distinguish Androgenetica from FPHL, however both are believed to have a genetic background influenced by hormonal imbalances. (Walker, Bald No More) Genetic hair loss can come from either parents side of the family.
The hair loss begins as thinning predominantly around the crown of the head and in cases, diffuse thinning all over the scalp.
Psychological Effects: No matter how the loss occurs, either quickly from Areata or more gradually from Female Pattern Hair Loss, living with less or no hair in this society raises many of the same issues for us: isolation, depression, low-self esteem, intimacy, trust, and shame.