Types and Causes of Baldness

I. Types of Baldness:

A. Androgenetic Alopecia (Male Pattern Baldness and Female Pattern Baldness):

  1. Male Pattern Baldness (MPB):
    • Characterized by a receding hairline and hair loss at the crown of the head.
    • Mainly influenced by genetic predisposition and hormonal factors, particularly the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
  2. Female Pattern Baldness (FPB):
    • Typically involves diffuse thinning of hair across the scalp rather than specific bald spots.
    • Also influenced by genetic factors and hormonal imbalances, including changes during menopause.

B. Alopecia Areata:

  • An autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks hair follicles, leading to hair loss.
  • Can occur suddenly and result in patchy bald spots on the scalp or other parts of the body.
  • Triggers may include stress, viral infections, or other environmental factors.

C. Telogen Effluvium:

  • Temporary hair loss resulting from a disturbance to the hair growth cycle, causing a larger number of hairs to enter the resting (telogen) phase.
  • Often triggered by significant stress, illness, hormonal changes (e.g., childbirth, thyroid disorders), or certain medications.
  • Typically manifests as diffuse shedding of hair rather than distinct bald patches.

D. Traction Alopecia:

  • Caused by repeated tension or pulling on the hair follicles, often due to tight hairstyles like braids, ponytails, or extensions.
  • Common among individuals who frequently engage in such hairstyling practices.

II. Causes of Baldness:

A. Genetic Predisposition:

  • Family history plays a significant role in determining susceptibility to baldness, particularly in cases of androgenetic alopecia.

B. Hormonal Factors:

  • Hormones, particularly dihydrotestosterone (DHT), can influence the hair growth cycle and contribute to patterned hair loss.
  • Changes in hormonal levels, such as those occurring during puberty, pregnancy, or menopause, can also affect hair growth.

C. Autoimmune Factors:

  • Alopecia areata is thought to result from an autoimmune reaction where the body's immune system mistakenly attacks hair follicles.

D. Environmental and Lifestyle Factors:

  • Certain environmental factors, such as exposure to pollutants or toxins, may contribute to hair loss.
  • Lifestyle choices like poor nutrition, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and high-stress levels can also impact hair health.

E. Medical Conditions and Treatments:

  • Underlying medical conditions like thyroid disorders, autoimmune diseases, and scalp infections can lead to hair loss.
  • Certain medications, such as chemotherapy drugs, anticoagulants, and antidepressants, may cause hair shedding as a side effect.

Understanding the various types and causes of baldness is crucial for accurate diagnosis and appropriate management strategies tailored to individual needs.