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What are the Different Types of Hair Disease?

By Lori Smith
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Hair disease is often distressing for men, women, and even children, who suffer from a variety of disorders that cause mild to severe baldness, and other follicular conditions. The most common types of the ailment include traction alopecia, tinea capitis, and Alopecia areata. While some conditions result from genetic factors that are virtually unavoidable, other forms occur as a result of styling techniques, chemicals, or various outside influences that are usually curtailed with proper care. Hair disease is often diagnosed and treated by a dermatologist who, in many cases, is able to work with the patient to restore healthy tresses.

Sometimes, hair disease occurs in response to emotional stress or environmental factors. There are a few medical treatments, such as chemotherapy, that can cause the problem, but hair usually grows back at the conclusion of treatment. Certain chemicals used for the sake of coloring, curling, or straightening the hair can be toxic in some situations, which may cause damage to the follicles. In certain circumstances, the symptoms are permanent, but not always.

Some common causes of hair disease are preventable and, once the problem is identified, it can usually be reversed with proper styling techniques, as long as scarring has not occurred. For example, traction alopecia often develops in people who frequently braid their hair tightly against the scalp. The constant pulling and lifting from the roots creates tension and eventually, the follicle is too week to hold the hair. While significant loss can result from continuous stress caused by the style, it is an avoidable condition. Once damage occurs, however, patchy baldness may become permanent in the affected areas because scar tissue builds up and prohibits new hair from growing.

The cause of spotty hair loss sometimes results from a contagious fungal infection of the scalp. Tinea capitis is one such infection that often presents as a small, red ring on the head, in the affected area. When the fungus enters hair fibers, they become brittle and easily break, which creates small bald patches that can progressively get worse if left untreated. The area becomes inflamed and blisters often form. Antibiotics and medicated shampoos are frequently recommended to cure this condition.

A common autoimmune disease of the skin, alopecia areata, can result in significant hair loss over various parts of the scalp, or all over the body. This particular variety of hair disease occurs when an individual’s white blood cells attack the follicles. It usually happens suddenly, beginning on the scalp, for reasons that are not completely understood by medical professionals. Many dermatologists attribute the condition to a combination of genetic factors, emotional stress, allergies, or even toxin exposure.

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Discussion Comments
By Sporkasia — On Aug 21, 2014

Losing-hair diseases should not be taken lightly. Hair loss can be traumatic for some people. I remember reading a great story about a football player who shaved his head because his son was going through chemo treatments and was losing his hair. The football player didn't want his son to have to go through the experience alone. Isn't that great?

By mobilian33 — On Aug 21, 2014

I think the best way to handle hair loss is to embrace it. Believe me, men, you look much better when you shave all of the hair off your head instead of trying to puff it up to make it look as if you have more than you actually have. This goes for women, too. I have seen some very attractive women who were bald.

By Feryll — On Aug 20, 2014

When I look at all of the hair loss treatments I might actually be able to avoid, I can't find one of them that looks decent. I hope my hair lasts a long time because I am not looking forward to wearing a toupee or trying one of those fancy intricate comb overs that some guys seem to think actually hides the fact they have lost a large chunk of the hair they once had.

By Laotionne — On Aug 19, 2014

Isn't it amazing how hair loss can make a man look so much older than his actual age? I have seen young guys in their early twenties who have the male pattern balding and they look at least twice their ages. I can certainly understand why guys try to find anyway possible to try to cover up those bald spots.

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