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The 9 Types of Alopecia


  • What is alopecia?
  • The 9 types of alopecia
  • A personal perspective on hair loss

Key Points

  • Alopecia is the medical term for hair loss
  • There are 9 types of alopecia, but 3 of these are much more common than the others
  • Speak to a GP if your noticing more hair falling out than normal, as this is a sign of alopecia
  • Scarring alopecia is when the hair follicle is destroyed and replaced with scar tissue

What is alopecia

The recent Oscar-gate has put the spotlight on Alopecia, bringing much needed awareness and highlighting the importance of educating ourselves about the condition. ‘Alopecia’ is the medical term for hair loss which can be genetic, or as a result of extreme stress, a medical condition or treatment. Whilst there are 3 most common types of alopecia: alopecia areata, traction alopecia, and CCCA, there are actually 9 types of alopecia in total. Let’s take you through the different variations of alopecia, and what to look out for.

The 9 types of alopecia

Alopecia Areata

Alopecia Areata is understood to be an autoimmune condition, which usually begins with isolated patches of hair loss, usually in one or more coin-sized (often round or oval) patches on the scalp. In this type of alopecia, cells from the immune system attack the hair follicles (i.e. structures in skin that form hair), preventing it from producing more hair and ultimately leading to hair loss. These cells attack the follicle, preventing it from producing more hair. Researchers do not fully understand what causes the immune attack on hair follicles, but they believe that both genetic and environmental (non-genetic) factors play a role.

Androgenetic Alopecia (Pattern Hair Loss)

Androgenetic alopecia happens when there is a change in hormones known as androgens. This is typically referred to as male pattern hair loss and female pattern hair loss. In men, hairs shed in a well-defined pattern, whereas in women, the hair typically becomes thinner over the entirety of the head or has reduced volume. 

Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia (CCCA)  (Scarring Alopecia)

Central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia is another immune-related condition that destroys the hair follicle, replaces it with scar tissue, and causes permanent hair loss. Hair loss starts in the centre of the scalp in Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia, and gradually spreads outwards. C.C.C.A. almost exclusively arises among Black women between ages 30 and 55, and research suggests it may afflict as many as 15 percent of such women.

Chemotherapy Induced Alopecia (Anagen Effluvium)

Chemotherapy-Induced Alopecia (CIA) occurs when the hair falls out after chemotherapy. It is one of the most visibly distressing side effects of chemotherapeutic drugs, commonly administered to those in cancer treatment.

Frontal Fibrosing Alopecia (Scarring Alopecia)

Frontal Fibrosing Alopecia (FFA) is another form of Scarring Alopecia, which is when the hair follicle is destroyed and replaced with scar tissue. In Frontal Fibrosing Alopecia, hair loss is experienced across the front of the scalp, and can also affect the eyebrows.

Lichen Planopilaris (Scarring Alopecia)

Primary Scarring Alopecias (also known as cicatricial alopecias or scarring hair loss) are a group of conditions that destroy the hair follicle, replacing it with scar tissue, and causing permanent hair loss. In Lichen Planopilaris, patches of scalp appear, most typically on the sides, front and lower back of the scalp.

Telogen Effluvium

With Telogen Effluvium an atypically large number of hairs move into the telogen (resting) phase and shed, so you may notice more hair loss than usual. Telogen Effluvium is commonly caused by a physical or psychological trigger and often resolves itself spontaneously.

Traction Alopecia (hair loss)

Traction Alopecia is when hair falls out due to being pulled in the same way for a prolonged period of time. This condition is typically caused by tight hairstyles, relaxers or extensions.

Trichotillomania (hair pulling)

Trichotillomania is a psychological condition, where you are unable to stop pulling out hair, which then leads to hair loss. The most common areas that people pull hair from are the scalp, eyebrows, and eyelashes.

A Personal Perspective on Hair Loss

In a previous Instagram LIVE we chatted with influencer, entrepreneur, and wig specialist Gina Atinuke Knight, on her personal experience with alopecia, covering everything from early symptoms, to hair as part of her identity, and what it means to accept and embrace this challenging condition. Watch the full conversation with Gina here, to get a more personal insight into the condition.

If you’re noticing any more hair loss than is normal for you, this could be an indication of some type of alopecia. We recommend you speak to a GP. Alternatively, do get in touch with us and we can refer you to our network of dermatologists and trichologists. 


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