Alopecia – What Is It And Where Does It Come From?

Alopecia, General Hair Loss

Alopecia is a general medical term for hair loss, as such it is not really seen on it’s own but with an additional term that defines the type. We take a closer look at the various forms.




Ok, so having just said it is not really seen on it’s own we thought we would give it pride of place and an explanation for its appearance. It is worth taking a moment to understand that the term alopecia is simply how a medical person refers to any form of hair loss. It is a description of the symptom rather than the cause. There you have it. So in fact it is perfectly acceptable to use it on its own, “I have alopecia and it makes me unhappy” is a properly constructed sentence (in every sense).

The most common form is the almost ubiquitous Androgenetic Alopecia, the type we inherit in our genes. The ticking time bomb pre-set at the moment of your conception to rob you of your hair at some fixed future point in time. It follows a predictable pattern for men and women, though is as common in both and takes a different route… women can expect to lose hair along the line where a central parting might be, but does not usually trouble the hairline itself. For men the all too familiar widows peak are usually first to appear as the temples receded (or grow depending on your point of view). The can be accompanied, or followed, by a thinning at the crown. From there it is a journey to the end point… this can be different for different men but can result in its most advanced stage to the classic thing ring of hair joining the ears in a line around the base of the head.

But Androgenetic Alopecia is far from the only type. So in no particular order here are the rest. Some will be familiar, some might surprise.

Anagen Effluvium


This used to be extremely rare but with the advent of chemotherapy for cancer patients has become far more frequent.  It is a term used by medical people to describe a rapid and widespread hair loss. The good news is that a full recovery can expected once chemotherapy treatment stops.  Cooling caps, like the one pictured above, have been introduced to try and reduce the effects of chemo on scalp hair – with some success.

Telogen Effluvium

This is the term given to a general thinning of the hair, this can be as a result of medicine, or a change in hormones, stress, diet, illness.. you get the idea. It is your body’s own systems dysfunctionally halting normal hair growth. Again, the good news is that find the root cause of the problem and you can expect a return to hair health.

Scarring Alopecia

scarring alopecia

Caused by an underlying condition this form sees the hair follicle completely destroyed. Urgent medical attention should be sought to address the underlying condition or the hair loss will worsen, and is permanent.

Alopecia Areata

what causes alopecia areata

Now this one most will have heard of, and many will have seen someone, or even know someone who suffers. It manifests as small circular patches of hair loss, usually on the scalp. Often temporary it can however be a repeat visitor and extremely hard to manage. You are still recommended to get along to your doctor to check for underlying conditions.

Alopecia Totalis and Universalis

alopecia universalis

These are fairly extreme forms, Totalis is believed to an auto-immune disorder which sees the loss of all hair on the head. Universalis, often associated with stress, is the ultimate form of alopecia and results in the loss of all hair on the body, including eyelashes and eyebrows.

HIS Hair Clinic


As you can see there are many forms of hair loss which are not the hereditary type. The fact is though that even some of these forms which are temporary can mean months and months of misery. If you have a hair loss condition you would like to discuss with one of our friendly team of experts simply complete the contact form at the side of this page or click here to find your nearest clinic.




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