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Alopecia and Hair Loss


Picture of a thinning scalp

Alopecia is baldness or the loss of some or all of your hair. The commonest form is ordinary, hereditary male-pattern baldness, but both women and men can suffer from hair loss for other reasons.

Many people use the term alopecia to refer to Alopecia Areata - an auto-immune disease where the bodys immune system attacks the growing hair follicle, resulting in hair loss. This condition mainly affects children and young adults, however people of any age can be affected. It may be limited to patches on the scalp although the entire scalp and all body hair can be affected, leading to total hair loss.  Hair loss may of course result from many other causes.

Hair loss or thinning can be triggered by dietary imbalance or significant nutritional deficiencies due to a poor diet, crash diets, anaemia (iron deficiency) and eating disorders, including anorexia or bulimia.


Male-pattern baldness is usually easy to identify, but it is important to look for an underlying reason for hair loss when male-pattern baldness has been ruled out or if it occurs in a woman.


Fungal infections can cause circular patches of hair to fall out.



The form that alopecia takes will depend on the cause. Male-pattern baldness is inherited and may cause a total loss of hair from the scalp. Alopecia areata can cause a total loss of all body hair including the eyebrows and eyelashes, but we do not know the cause.


Male-pattern baldness responds well to some drug treatments that cannot be obtained on the NHS. The drugs must be taken throughout a man's life and not all men will benefit from their use.

Treating an underlying condition such as an infection can help prevent further hair loss, but sometimes the hair does not return. Contrary to popular belief, treatment for cancer does not always cause a complete loss of hair, and even when it does, the hair often grows back again after six months or so.

Hair transplants from another part of the skin may be helpful, as may scalp reduction.



Baldness has many possible causes. These include:

  • Old age and inherited traits,

  • Disease (either directly from an infection or because of fever),

  • Chemotherapy or radiation treatment for cancer (but not in every case),

  • Male sex hormones in women,

  • An underactive thyroid gland (myxoedema),

  • Pregnancy (hair stops growing during pregnancy. Once the baby is born, the cycle is resumed and there is a sudden loss of hair. New hair forms within six months),

  • Some medical drugs

Hair loss may occur some weeks after a severe feverish illness such as scarlet fever. Scarring alopecia may follow burns, skin wasting, ulceration, fungus infection or skin tumours.


Hair loss can be a serious problem for people, often undermining self-confidence and self esteem.

For your convenience, we have prepared  a list of search terms used in order of popularity, to find more pages on this subject:

Searches completed in December 2004 

Count Search Term

179307 hair loss 
55423 hair loss product 
22645 hair loss remedy 
15647 hair loss treatment 
8742 hair loss solution 
8112 stop hair loss 
7449 female hair loss 
5510 hair loss woman 
4973 cause of hair loss 
3152 hair loss in woman 
2769 male hair loss 
2604 vitamin for hair loss 
2533 hair loss prevention 
1895 womens hair loss 
1768 hair loss shampoo 
1313 man hair loss 
1276 hair loss help 
1115 stress and hair loss 
1071 cause of hair loss in woman 
1044 saw palmetto hair loss 


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© Anthony George 2005