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What is Alopecia and What are its Causes?

Alopecia refers to the rapid loss of hair and is an autoimmune disorder which is also known as spot baldness. It occurs when the immune system of your body forms antibodies to attack your hair follicles leading to hair loss.

Alopecia normally develops in children and teenagers. It is commonly found that around half of the people with the condition were affected before they reached 21.What Is Alopecia And What Are Its Causes

Photo by Carolyn P Speranza, CC BY 2.0


Does Too Much Hair Fall Indicate Alopecia?

Losing a few strands of hair everyday as you brush is quite natural. It is considered that losing up to 100 hairs a day is normal. When you lose hair beyond the normal levels, it can be alopecia and hence is a major cause of concern. Alopecia can lead to baldness and hence it is important to look for effective ways to address the condition.

Once you realize that you are losing more hair than is normal, it is best to initiate preventive measures to address hair loss. Some of the best shampoos for hair loss can help and you need to double your efforts by having a balanced diet.

Symptoms of Alopecia

One or more of the symptoms given below can be seen in those with alopecia.

Hair Loss in Patches:  Bare patches of coin-size occur on your scalp and these are the signs of onset of alopecia.

Changes in Nails: Changes in your nails, both in fingers and toes, can be suggestive of alopecia. Pinpoint dents, white spots and lines and split nails are symptoms of alopecia. Nails lose their shine as well.

Types of Alopecia

Alopecia is classified as alopecia areata, alopecia totalis and alopecia universalis. In alopecia areata, the loss of hair will be in patches. In alopecia totalis, the loss of hair will be complete. The condition in which there is loss of hair all over the body is called alopecia universalis.

What Causes Alopecia

Alopecia can target any one despite their gender and the exact causes have not been identified. Although it is often said, that genetics and a few other factors have a role to play in it. Hormones, chronic stress, virus attacks, illnesses and medications are possible factors that can cause autoimmune disorder leading to alopecia.

Those with alopecia are at a higher risk of developing other autoimmune conditions including thyroid disorders


If you are genetically predisposed, you stand a chance of being affected by alopecia. Genes play a major role in making you bald. The condition is termed androgenetic alopecia a.k.a male-pattern baldness, in which the affected person goes completely bald. Women are spared but not completely and can go partially bald.

Allergy was also believed to cause alopecia when a research team found extensive hair loss in those with allergies such as eczema. However, the result differed when a study was conducted on participants of a different origin. This highlights the possibility of the role of genetic composition of various races in alopecia.


Losing more hair than normal levels can also be owing to environmental reasons. Environment plays a major role in your hair loss. Here are some of the environmental factors that can make you lose more hair.


  • Pollution in air interferes with the protein producing processes in the body that stimulate hair growth.
  • Exposure to chemicals is associated with hair loss. The chlorine content in the swimming pool can also damage your hair. Using hair dyes and shampoos that contain chemicals such as ammonia can be very harmful to hair health.
  • Overexposure to sun may make the hair brittle leading to hair loss.

While genetics and environmental triggers are considered two most important causes of alopecia, a few other factors are also believed to cause alopecia. They are.


  • Severe illness
  • Thyroid conditions
  • Chronic stress that cause hormonal changes
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • To prevent hair loss and acquire healthy hair growth, it is essential that you identify the cause so that you can have it treated right. After all, hair locks are not all about looks, right?


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