Understanding Your Hair Loss
There are countless factors that could be causing your hair to fall out, including:
- Conditions and diseases (androgenetic alopecia, trichotillomania, and more)
- Hormonal changes (postpartum, perimenopause, menopause)
- Prescription drugs and medications (chemotherapy, blood thinners, steroids, antibiotics, and more)
- Poor nutrition
- Harsh hair care (heat styling tools, tight hairstyles, and chemical treatments)
Is It a Condition or Disease?
The most common cause of women’s hair loss is androgenetic alopecia, an inherited condition that results in progressive loss of hair on the scalp. For women, it’s also known as female pattern baldness.
However, there is a slew of other hair-loss-related conditions and diseases, including several forms of autoimmune disorders and scarring (cicatricial) hair loss. Whether you’ve received a medical diagnosis or not, we hope that this list can help guide you on your next step.
- Androgenetic Alopecia
Inherited and progressive hair loss; also known as “female pattern baldness”
Women’s androgenetic alopecia is the female equivalent of male pattern baldness, and it works the same way. Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a derivative of the hormone testosterone, binds to hair follicles and prevents them from getting the nutrients they need. The difference is that diffuse thinning, which rarely happens in men, is a telling sign of genetic hair loss in women. This means that thinning can happen anywhere on the scalp or all over, and some women lose hair in a combination of patterns.
Do you think androgenetic alopecia is the cause of your hair loss? The most important thing to do before you make any long-lasting decisions is to make sure that genetics are truly to blame for your thinning hair. Androgenic alopecia can be triggered by a variety of factors tied to the actions of hormones, including some ovarian cysts, certain birth-control pills, pregnancy, and menopause. During your comprehensive hair and scalp analysis at Unique Hair Concepts, we can help you find the right solution or option that will suit your needs and expectations.
- Alopecia Areata
Autoimmune disorder; unpredictable hair loss
Here’s the good news. Alopecia areata, despite its many emotional implications, is not harmful to your overall health. It’s not rare, either. According to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation, 6.6 million Americans are experiencing this type of hair loss. The condition causes you to lose your hair because your immune system – the body’s natural defense system – begins to attack your hair follicles. This can happen just on the scalp, on the scalp and face, or all over the body. Alopecia areata can begin at any age, but it often starts during childhood.
The bad news, aside from losing your hair, is that alopecia areata can be totally unpredictable. Hair loss appears in patches, and hair can fall out slowly or quickly. Your hair might grow back completely, or it may not. With or without treatment, it can shed again at any time. In rare cases, what looks like alopecia areata can advance to complete hair loss, known as alopecia totalis. Even whole-body hair loss, or alopecia universalis, is simply another form of this disorder. Unlike pattern baldness and other types of hair loss, alopecia areata doesn’t destroy your hair follicles. Most of them remain viable and will grow again when they receive the right signal from your body. Unfortunately, we can’t control those signals.
Unique Hair Concepts doesn't cure alopecia areata. No one does. What we can do is be your reliable, go-to resource for dealing with the condition. Depending on how you want to handle your hair loss, we’ll make a plan that works for every ebb and flow that comes with alopecia areata. We can fill in the spots where your hair is missing, take awesome care of your scalp, and help you know what to expect. More than anything else, we’ll be a sounding board, a shoulder to lean on, and a place where you can get meaningful answers.
- Alopecia Totalis
Autoimmune disorder; complete and often permanent hair loss
While many conditions can cause partial or temporary hair loss for women, alopecia totalis is one that is complete and often permanent. Like alopecia areata, alopecia totalis is an autoimmune disorder that causes the immune system to use your body’s natural defenses against your hair follicles. In milder forms of alopecia, hair may shed and grow back over time. Regrowth is less common for women with alopecia totalis, though it does happen. The chances of complete restoration through natural regrowth are small.
Alopecia totalis can begin in two ways – with gradual hair loss in patches throughout the scalp, or with very sudden loss of all hair on the head. If you’re losing hair throughout your entire body, you’re likely dealing with a third condition called alopecia universalis.
This is the question we wish we could answer. We know that women with these three forms of alopecia have an autoimmune disorder. What we don’t know is what triggers the condition to start – or stop – causing hair loss. Alopecia totalis usually affects children and adults under the age of 40. For some still-undiscovered reason, in this form of alopecia, the immune system attacks only the hair follicles on the scalp. Until research uncovers the root causes of alopecia totalis and how to prevent their effects, many women are left wondering what they can do about their hair loss.
It’s true that there’s no cure for these autoimmune forms of alopecia, but that doesn’t mean that nothing can be done. If you’re experiencing hair loss, your first priority should be to identify the cause. When it comes to women’s hair loss, causes equal options. Though we can’t stop your hair loss, Unique Hair Concepts can help by offering genuine support, on-going education, and customized options for treating or managing your hair loss.
- Alopecia Universalis
Autoimmune disorder; whole-body hair loss
Alopecia universalis is a relatively rare autoimmune disorder that causes hair loss over the scalp and the entire body. The only real difference between this and other types of alopecia areata is the extent of hair affected by the condition. While the mechanism is common, the experience of hair loss for women with alopecia universalis is anything but universal. Men, women, and children who lack hair across their entire bodies must consider some factors that other forms of hair loss don’t bring.
In alopecia universalis, hair loss is more noticeable than in other types of hair loss. More importantly, some of the body’s natural hairs provide protection from bacteria and the environment. Sure, the hair on your head might be your first priority if you’ve lost your hair suddenly, but it’s important to revisit each site of hair loss to ensure the condition doesn’t put your health in jeopardy.
Those with alopecia universalis just might be those who benefit the most from their time with us. Full-body hair loss is a rare condition that many non-specialized providers are poorly equipped to handle. Salons definitely can’t consider all the aspects of this type of hair loss.
As a trichology-oriented studio, Unique Hair Concepts emphasizes scalp care – we’ll analyze your scalp and recommend a scalp-care regimen. Alopecia universalis can be tough, but going through it with a trusted ally is never as hard as being isolated and alone.
- Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia (CCCA)
A form of scarring alopecia; permanent hair loss
Central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia (CCCA) is a relatively new, rare condition that most commonly affects women of African ancestry. First noticed in the 1950s, CCCA is unique for its pattern, which starts at the crown or the top of the head and progresses in symmetrically. It was known as hot comb alopecia, and it was thought to be caused by very specific hairstyling methods. Research has made clear that CCCA is actually a form of scarring (cicatricial) alopecia. Unlike other scarring alopecias that usually appear during menopause, CCCA often starts when a woman is in her 20s and progresses slowly over the next 20 to 30 years.
We still don’t know what causes the condition, but we do know that it results in hair loss when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy hair follicles, replacing them with scar tissue. Unlike lichen planopilaris, the inflammation caused by CCCA often takes place below the surface of the skin, making it harder to detect. Because the hair follicles are destroyed, hair loss due to CCCA is permanent. The hair cannot be regrown, and hair restoration surgery will not achieve results. This makes early diagnosis especially important.
The first step toward dealing with CCCA is to seek a diagnosis from a medical specialist. Although cicatricial clopecia cannot be cured, and the hair loss it causes is permanent, medicine can often slow or stop the advancement of inflammation and scarring.
Once the condition is under control, you can meet with the Unique Hair Concepts team to learn about the many options available to you. To start, we offer a trichological approach to scalp care that relieves pain and itching. As women’s hair loss specialists, we have multiple options for adding hair so that the results are undetectable. These range from temporary solutions that can be modified regularly, to a state-of-the-art, completely personalized, hypoallergenic permanent hair system from Cesare Ragazzi. We’ve helped hundreds of women reduce the impact that alopecia has had on their lives. Even if you have a rare form of hair loss, we have the options and experience to help you feel great about your hair again.
- Frontal Fibrosing Alopecia (FFA)
A form of scarring alopecia; progressive, permanent hair loss around the frontal hairline
Have you or your stylist noticed you’re losing hair around your front hairline? If so, several conditions could be to blame. The rarest of these potential causes is called frontal fibrosing alopecia (FFA). FFA is a scarring (cicatricial) form of alopecia, and the hair loss it causes is permanent.
Though it doesn’t usually involve pain or itching, frontal fibrosing alopecia is similar in some ways to lichen planopilaris, another form of scarring alopecia; both occur when healthy hair follicles are mistakenly attacked by the immune system and replaced with scar tissue. FFA is characterized by the unique band of hair loss it creates around the frontal hairline, and it often progresses to the eyebrows. Since this area has been exposed to less sun than the surrounding skin, it can be noticeably lighter in color than the surrounding skin, creating a visible band.
FFA is often confused with traction alopecia because they take on similar patterns around the hairline. However, traction alopecia is a result of hairstyles that involve excessive pulling, damaging the hair follicles and causing hair loss.
We don’t know what causes FFA, but it is not contagious or hereditary. A scalp biopsy conducted by a dermatologist is the best way to confirm a diagnosis of FFA. Once you’re sure about the cause of your hair loss, you can take action. Since FFA causes the hair follicles to be replaced with scar tissue, hair cannot be regrown, and surgical methods won’t work. However, with medical treatment, you can fight its progression, and with hair restoration, you can minimize the appearance of hair loss.
At Unique Hair Concepts, we offer a variety of options for women with even the rarest types of hair loss. With professional hair integration and state-of-the-art hair prostheses, we can eliminate the appearance of hair loss while making the results undetectable. Whenever you’re ready, we’re here to help.
- Lichen Planopilaris (LPP)
A form of scarring alopecia; a rare inflammatory condition that results in patchy, progressive, and permanent hair loss
Lichen planopilaris (LPP) is different from other types of hair loss because it is an inflammatory autoimmune disease. Anyone can develop LPP, but it usually appears in middle-aged women. It is not contagious. When someone has LPP, the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy hair follicles, destroying them and replacing them with scar tissue. The inflammation often causes painful or very itchy purplish bumps to appear on the scalp.
Since several types of hair loss can cause the patchy pattern of hair loss seen in lichen planopilaris, diagnosis can be difficult. Stylists and even doctors can mistake hair loss scattered across the scalp for a more typical alopecia. A scalp biopsy is needed to truly diagnose LPP.
If you’ve received a diagnosis of lichen planopilaris, you likely know that the hair loss caused by it is permanent. It’s very important for women seeking help to understand that a hair loss specialist can hide or fill in LPP-related hair loss but cannot help damaged hair regrow. The best approach for women facing LPP is to first consider medical options with a physician, and then find a trusted hair loss specialist, who can help replace lost hair and relieve scalp irritation.
At Unique Hair Concepts, Flora has brought together the most advanced solutions for women’s hair loss. She tests every option extensively before deciding whether to offer it to her clients. Though hair loss due to LPP can’t be reversed, we have incredible methods for adding new hair that appear totally natural and can keep up with even the most active lifestyles.
Compulsive hair-pulling behavior; also referred to as “hair-pulling disorder”
Throughout life, some degree of hair pulling is normal. Kids pull their own and each other’s. Teens twirl their hair between their fingers. Adults can find themselves literally pulling their hair out due to frustration or stress. None of these indicates a more serious disorder. Trichotillomania is what happens when the urge to pull hair becomes compulsive and the behavior cannot be voluntarily stopped. Many people aren’t even aware when they’re actively pulling their hair – from the scalp, eyebrows, eyelids, or other areas of the body.
At Unique Hair Concepts, we understand the causes and results of trichotillomania. If you have bald patches, we’ll find natural-looking ways to fill in your hair. We’ll take great care of your scalp, especially if pulling has caused pain or inflammation. And we’ll help you take steps to reduce stress and eliminate triggers that bring on the urge to pull hair. Since there is a psychological component to trichotillomania, we can connect you with specialists who practice Cognitive Therapy or Commitment Therapy – types of counseling that can resolve the causes of this type of hair loss.
If hair pulling is starting to affect your life, contact Unique Hair Concepts. We’re here to help.
- Other Conditions & Diseases
We can’t say it enough. So many things can cause women to lose their hair, and in so many different ways. Other conditions and diseases that may be causing your hair loss include:
- Thyroid problems
- Autoimmune disorders, including lupus
- Anxiety or stress
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Certain cancers
- And more
The only effective way to slow down, stop, reverse, or truly accept your hair loss is to find the real reason it’s happening in the first place. Sit down with Flora at Unique Hair concepts, take advantage of your free hair and scalp analysis, and start finding answers.
There Are Always Options.
As a woman-owned hair restoration center, Unique Hair Concepts is particularly sensitive to women's experience of hair loss. UHC’s owner, Flora Fuentes, has evaluated countless products for women’s hair loss, and she only works with those that consistently achieve uncompromising comfort, security, and quality.
Unique Hair Concepts is a safe, private place where you can get honest answers and realistic options for your hair loss. Get ready to feel in control of your hair again! Take our hair loss test, or contact us at our Ardsley, NY location today.