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January 20th, 2009:

Ludwig Scale of Hair Loss for Women

courtesy of www.dermalogix.net

courtesy of www.dermalogix.net

Photo of AGA in younger woman

Photo image of young woman with diagnosis of androgenetic alopecia (female pattern baldness) courtesy of www.trichologists.org.uk

Photo image of young woman with diagnosis of androgenetic alopecia (female pattern baldness) courtesy of www.trichologists.org.uk

Photo image of middle aged woman with AGA

Photo image of middle aged woman with female pattern baldness.  Courtesy of www.trichologists.org.uk

Photo image of middle aged woman with female pattern baldness. Courtesy of www.trichologists.org.uk

Sharon Blynn: Beautiful Things {commercial}

Sharon Blynn of www.baldisbeautiful.org is a survivor of ovarian cancer. In this commercial for Bristol-Myers Squibb, she talks beautiful things. Sharon, you are beautiful!

melanie

HHLH Forum Member has head tattoed on Miami Ink

One of our beautiful forum members, JoyceStock recently had her head tattooed on Miami Ink. It’s a lovely butterfly! Thank you, Joyce, for being such an inspiration!

melanie

Can I Pass Alopecia on to My Children?

It is possible, but not likely, for alopecia universalis to be inherited. Most children with alopecia universalis do not have a parent with the disease, and the vast majority of parents with alopecia universalis do not pass it along to their children.

Alopecia universalis is not like some genetic diseases in which a child has a 50-50 chance of developing the disease if one parent has it. Scientists believe that there may be a number of genes that predispose certain people to the disease. It is highly unlikely that a child would inherit all of the genes needed to predispose him or her to the disease.

Even with the right (or wrong) combination of genes, alopecia universalis is not a certainty. In identical twins, who share all of the same genes, the concordance rate is only 55 percent. In other words, if one twin has the disease, there is only a 55 percent chance that the other twin will have it as well. This shows that other factors besides genetics are required to trigger the disease.

Who Is Most Likely To Get Alopecia Areata?

Alopecia areata affects an estimated four million Americans of both sexes and of all ages and ethnic backgrounds. It often begins in childhood.

If you have a close family member with the disease, your risk of developing it is slightly increased. If your family member lost his or her first patch of hair before age 30, the risk to other family members is greater. Overall, one in five people with the disease have a family member who has it as well.

What Causes Alopecia Universalis?

In alopecia universalis, immune system cells called white blood cells attack the rapidly growing cells in the hair follicles that make the hair. The affected hair follicles become small and drastically slow down hair production. Fortunately, the stem cells that continually supply the follicle with new cells do not seem to be targeted. So the follicle always has the potential to regrow hair.

Scientists do not know exactly why the hair follicles undergo these changes, but they suspect that a combination of genes may predispose some people to the disease. In those who are genetically predisposed, some type of trigger–perhaps a virus or something in the person’s environment–brings on the attack against the hair follicles.

There are, however, studies that have been done that show a genetic link for those people who are diagnosed as having Alopecia Universalis. According to MedicineNet.com, the “disorder is inherited as an autosomal recessive trait. It is caused by a mutation in a gene dubbed HR in chromosome band 8p21.2 that is the human homolog of the mouse “hairless” gene — the human version of the gene in the mouse that is responsible for hairless mice.” Huh?? Basically they are saying that a good majority of those who develop alopecia universalis have a hereditary gene that could be the possible cause of their hair loss. This is great news since pinpointing a gene may provide scientists a more targeted approach to treating hair growth disorders such as alopecia.

More information concerning studies such as this can be found at:

What Are the Different Types of Alopecia?

The word alopecia itself is a term specifically used for hair loss yet there are many subtypes of alopecia. These are the three primary subtypes of alopecia:

  • Alopecia Areata – Patchy loss of hair whether that means patches on your legs, arms, pubic region, scalp, lashes or brows.
  • Alopecia Totalis – Total (or near total) loss of facial hair and scalp hair (vellus or otherwise)
  • Alopecia Universalis – Total loss of all bodily and scalp hair (vellus or otherwise)

Each of the terms are for more descriptive purposes since the each of the types can sometimes be vague and symptoms may seem to “overlap” each other in places. For example, a person who is diagnosed as Alopecia Universalis may have hair growing on her left knee. Does this make the person Alopecia Totalis instead?

What Is Alopecia?

Alopecia is considered to be an autoimmune disease, in which the immune system, which is designed to protect the body from foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria, mistakenly attacks the hair follicles, the tiny cup-shaped structures from which hairs grow. This can lead to hair loss on the scalp and elsewhere.

In most cases, hair falls out in small, round patches about the size of a quarter. In many cases, the disease does not extend beyond a few bare patches. In some people, hair loss is more extensive. Although uncommon, the disease can progress to cause total loss of hair on the head (referred to as alopecia areata totalis) or complete loss of hair on the head, face, and body (alopecia areata universalis).

Alopecia can occur at any age and is not life threatening, however the psychological impact on the person experiencing alopecia can be incredible. Such an impact can affect the person’s social life and may lead to a higher risk of major depression and/or anxiety disorders.

Images of Further Stages of Alopecia

Further stages of alopecia areata

Further stages of alopecia areata

Alopecia with diffuse thinning courtesy of www.meddean.luc.edu

Alopecia with diffuse thinning courtesy of www.meddean.luc.edu

Alopecia Universalis courtesy of www.dermatology.org

Alopecia Universalis courtesy of www.dermatology.org

How can I cope with the effects of AGA?


Living with hair loss can be hard, especially in a culture that views hair as a sign of youth and good health. Even so, most people with alopecia areata are well-adjusted, contented people living full lives.

The key to coping is valuing yourself for who you are, not for how much hair you have or don’t have. Many people learning to cope with alopecia areata find it helpful to talk with other people who are dealing with the same problems. More than four million people nationwide have this disease at some point in their lives, so you are not alone. We have a number of women who live with alopecias of all kinds a daily basis in our Online Community who can help through message boards and support groups.

Another way to cope with the disease is to minimize its effects on your appearance. A wig or hairpiece can look natural and stylish. For small patches of hair loss, a hair-colored powder, cream, or crayon applied to the scalp can make hair loss less obvious by eliminating the contrast between the hair and the scalp. Skillfully applied eyebrow pencil can mask missing eyebrows.

For women, attractive scarves can hide patchy hair loss; jewelry and clothing can distract attention from patchy hair; and proper makeup can camouflage the effects of lost facial hair. If you would like to learn more about camouflaging the cosmetic aspects of androgenetic alopecia, ask your doctor or members of your local support group to recommend a cosmetologist who specializes in working with people whose appearance is affected by medical conditions.

Photo Image of Alopecia Barbae

Image photo of alopecia barbae (barbie)

Image photo of alopecia barbae (barbie)

Alopecia Areata Image Photo

Image photo of what a typical onset of alopecia areata looks like.

Image photo of what a typical onset of alopecia areata looks like.

How will androgenetic alopecia affect my life?

The comforting news is that androgenetic alopecia is not a painful disease and does not make people feel sick physically. It is not contagious, and people who have the disease are generally healthy otherwise. It does not reduce life expectancy and it should not interfere with the ability to achieve such life goals as going to school, working, marrying, raising a family, playing sports, and exercising.

The emotional aspects of living with hair loss, however, can be challenging. Many people cope by learning as much as they can about the disease; speaking with others who are facing the same problem; and, if necessary, seeking counseling to help build a positive self-image. HerHairLossHelp.com offers a wonderful Online Community of women who suffer from alopecia and other hair loss afflictions that can help women who suffer from hair loss cope with their everyday activities. Having a community of women, who are all going through various stages of hair loss, offers other women an empathetic person to turn to when dealing with emotional difficulties because of their hair loss. Visit the HerHairLossHelp.com Forum to learn more!