Among the common people, alopecia is not widely known word. It is a medical term, which is used for hair fall problem. Hair fall itself is a disease. But sometimes it is seen as symptoms of other diseases. Sometimes some drugs cause it. But these type of hair fall is temporary. After a while, it is cured naturally. In this article, I will discuss alopecia as a disease itself.
Type of alopecia
Male pattern baldness
It is the most common type of alopecia that occurs with male. It is caused due to hormonal disorder that lies in androgen of male sex hormone. People with male pattern baldness are typically shown with round patches.
Female pattern baldness
Female pattern baldness is same as the male pattern alopecia that affects the woman.
You may have seen some people with a few round patches on the scalp. Normally these round patches are results of alopecia areata. In some cases of alopecia areata, affected people lose their all hair from the scalp. The factor that are responsible for Alopecia areata are mainly genetic. It is widely proved that a affected person had family history of having this disease. Tension and stress is another fact that causes alopecia areata to some people.
When the hair follicles are destroyed and hair does not grow back is generally occurred due to scarring alopecia. It also can happen as a side effect of some disease.
Anagen and Telogen Effluvium
A patient of cancer treated by chemotherapy loses his hair as side effect of that treatment. It is commonly known as anagen effluvium type of hair fall. On the otherside Telogen, effluvium is the result of stress and some drugs.
Treatment of Alopecia
Generally, there is no effective treatment for alopecia areata. Bu some hair proves effective in growing hair back. Minoxidil and Finasteride brings some effective result in growing hair. Although the effectiveness does not stay after stopping the dose of this drugs. Hair lose can be treated by cosmetic surgical methods. You can use wigs hairpieces to cover up your hair scalp. There are also some type of treatment that are expensive too. You can go for surgery, hair transplant. In hair, transplant process a skin of full of hair and follicles is removed and transplanted onto the scalp.
Most importantly alopecia can be handled by controlling your emotion and stress levels balance diet, cheerful lifestyle etc.
Is alopecia a type of cancer?
Many people ask the question, whether alopecia is a type of cancer or not. Short answer may be misleading. In some cases alopecia is closely related to cancer but alopecia is not cancer. Cancer treatments like chemotherapy and even cancer itself may cause alopecia. On the other hand excessive hair growth in any area may be a sign of cancer.
Before discussing relation between alopecia and cancer, I think it would be better to write few words about alopecia, cancer, hair loss and hair regrowth.
What is Alopecia?
In simple words among medical professionals hair loss is known as alopecia. So when someone talks about alopecia s/he is talking about hair fall or hair loss. There is another point to note, hair fall and hair regrowth is part of normal process. Average adults have 100,000 to 150,000 hairs and they lose around 100 hairs a day which is completely normal. If hair fall rate is high then there is real cause to be concerned. It’s known as alopecia. There may be several reasons for alopecia including skin disease, chemotherapy, which I will discuss little later.
Cancer is a disease which can be deadly if not treated early and properly. Before defining cancer I would like to write few words about cell. We all know that cell is the basic unit of living thing. It is estimated by scientists that average human body has around 10 trillion cells. We lose around 1 million skin cells in a day. So it’s clear that dying and reproduction of cells is a continuous life long process.
In case of cancer our cells are reproduced uncontrollably and cancerous cells may attack healthy cells. That means your healthy tissue and organs may be attacked. This is why cancer is so dangerous if cancerous cells are not killed early.
But killing cancerous cells is not easy. Anti cancer drugs often have severe side effects including hair fall. Radiotherapy is another method used to kill cancerous cell and radiotherapy may also cause hair fall.
I think you are starting to get an idea, how alopecia is related to cancer, though alopecia itself isn’t cancer. More on that later.
Hair Loss and Regrowth
As I mentioned above alopecia is synonym of hair loss and I have already discussed in brief about alopecia, let’s discuss about hair regrowth. Actually our hair is a type of protein called keratin. It is produced in a small anatomical sack called follicle. By producing keratin follicles continue to push hair strings outward and hair continues to grow. But these follicles on our scalp have a life cycle. At any time around 10% follicles are in resting phase and hairs from those follicles starts to fall. After the resting phase follicle become active again and hair starts to grow. We never see bald guy because 90% of follicles are always in active phase. But the problem is many diseases, hormone imbalance, cancer treatment including chemotherapy & radiotherapy and some types of cancer itself (source) may affect follicles which may lead to alopecia.
Alopecia and Cancer Treatment
Alopecia isn’t obvious in chemotherapy. Several drugs are used as part of cancer treatment; some drugs cause hair thinning, some cause partial hair loss or loss of patches of hair and some cause total hair loss. Luckily there are some drugs which do not cause hair loss at all and complete hair loss is very unlikely. Hair fall is one of the side effects of anti cancer drugs and intensity of side effects including hair fall varies person to person. Doctors decide which drug or drugs are most suitable for cancer treatment of a specific patient. But in some cases there are some options and patients may discuss which drugs are less likely to cause hair fall. It’s very difficult to guess about side effects early. Some anticancer drugs doesn’t cause hair loss and on the other hand there are some anticancer drugs which may cause total hair loss including underarm, eyelashes, eyebrows and pubic hair.
In most cases Hair comes back
Usually hair fall begins within two to three weeks of chemotherapy but it regrows after completing the treatment. During the period you can use wig, scarf, hat or something like these.
Alopecia due to Cancer
When we discuss about alopecia and cancer, we usually talk about hair loss as side effect of cancer treatment. But there are some types of cancer like mycosis cutaneous lymphoma, fungoides and Sézary syndrome which may also cause hair fall.