Hair Loss in Men and Women (Alopecia)

  • Medical Author:
    Gary W. Cole, MD, FAAD

    Dr. Cole is board certified in dermatology. He obtained his BA degree in bacteriology, his MA degree in microbiology, and his MD at the University of California, Los Angeles. He trained in dermatology at the University of Oregon, where he completed his residency.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

View Hair Loss Slideshow Pictures

Quick GuideHair Loss Pictures Slideshow: Causes, Treatments and Solutions for Men & Women

Hair Loss Pictures Slideshow: Causes, Treatments and Solutions for Men & Women

What is traction alopecia?

This is a small or localized hair loss area caused by repetitive or persistent pulling or traction on hair roots. Tight braids and ponytails can pull hard enough on hairs to make them fall out. If this happens, it's best to choose hairstyles that put less tension on hair. The sooner this is done the better to avoid permanent damage.

What is trichotillomania?

This refers to the habit of someone voluntarily pulling at their own hairs or twisting them, sometimes without realizing it. The scalp and eyelashes are often affected. Unlike alopecia areata patches, which are perfectly smooth, hair patches in trichotillomania show broken-off hairs. Treatment is often entirely behavioral. One has to notice the behavior and then consciously stop. Severe or resistant cases may require stress counseling with a therapist or psychologist or medical treatment with a psychiatrist. Several antidepressant or anxiety medications have been shown to help with this condition.

What is tinea capitis?

Tinea is the medical word for fungal infection, and capitis means head. Tinea capitis is fungal infection of the scalp that for the most part affects school-age children. Tinea capitis is more common in black African or African-American scalps. This condition is rare in healthy adults. Bald spots usually show broken-off hairs and is accompanied by a dermatitis. Oral antifungals can penetrate the hair roots and cure the infection, after which hair grows back. Sharing hats or combs and brushes may transmit tinea capitis.

What is generalized (diffuse) hair loss?

This is an overall hair thinning without specific bald spots or patterns. While this type of hair loss may not be noticeable to others, often the individual will feel their hair is not as thick or full as it previously was. Common conditions in this category are

  • telogen effluvium (rapid shedding after childbirth, fever, or sudden weight loss);
  • androgenetic or androgenic hair loss ("male-pattern baldness," "female-pattern baldness").
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/19/2015
VIEW PATIENT COMMENTS
  • Hair Loss - Treatments

    What hair loss treatments have worked well for you?

    Post View 14 Comments
  • Hair Loss - Age and Pattern

    How old were you when you first experienced hair loss? How would you describe or classify the pattern?

    Post View 7 Comments
  • Hair Loss - Vitamins

    What vitamins do you take for hair loss? Have you noticed an improvement since taking them?

    Post View 2 Comments
  • Hair Loss - Options

    What optional treatments have you tried for your hair loss? Are you happy with the results?

    Post View 3 Comments
  • Hair Loss - Telogen Effluvium

    Describe your experience with telogen effluvium, including the suspected cause for your "sudden" hair loss.

    Post View 3 Comments
  • Hair Loss - Women

    If you are a woman, describe your experience with hair loss, including any treatments.

    Post View 5 Comments

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors