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Hair diseases may attack either the scalp or the follicles, causing a variety of symptoms. The problems fall into the categories of hair loss, hair shaft abnormalities, and infectious hair diseases. The different types of hair diseases include trichorrhexis nodosa, loose anagen syndrome, trichotillomania, tinea capitis, sebohorreic dermatitis, folliculitis, and alopecia.
Trichorrhexis nodosa is a disorder that causes hair shaft abnormalities. Also known as trichonodosis, the symptoms of this disorder include weak hair follicles and constant breakage due to a lack of cuticle layer. There are two forms of trichorrhexis nodosa hair diseases: congenital and acquired. The congenital form is evident at birth and may be the result of metabolic disorders. The acquired form is more common and is caused by using too many hair products and chemicals. In order to reduce the symptoms associated with the acquired form, the patient should limit the use of dyes, perms, and styling products.
Hair loss hair diseases, such as loose anagen syndrome, typically affect children. The hair is extremely fine and often has trouble growing. The root is usually weak and large sections of hair may fall out when combed firmly. Treatment involves gentle combing, washing, and handling to prevent further hair loss.
Trichotillomania is an anxiety-related disorder that includes symptoms such as hair pulling and plucking. These types of hair diseases are usually part of an overall anxiety disorder and may require the patient to see both a dermatologist and psychiatrist. The dermatologist will treat the actual hair pulling by asking the patient to wear gloves to make it harder to pull the hair. Topical medications for hair regrowth may also be prescribed. The psychologist will treat the cause of the anxiety through therapy and medication.
Infectious hair diseases such as tinea capitis, sebohorreic dermatitis, and folliculitis are the most common cause of hair loss. Bacteria, parasites, or fungi attack the scalp and result in follicle damage or hair loosening. Treatments include medicated shampoos, changes in diet, and antibiotics.
Alopecia is one of the most severe hair diseases and results in significant hair loss. There are several levels of severity based on whether the hair loss is only on the scalp or affects the entire body. Causes of alopecia include poor diet and hygiene but may also be caused by chemotherapy and radiation. For patients taking chemotherapy or radiation, the symptoms of alopecia typically reverse themselves when the treatments are completed. For other causes of alopecia, doctors may prescribe medications, alternate diets, or even hair transplants.