Alopecia is a general medical term which means hair loss. There are many different causes and types of alopecia. In some cases the cause of the hair loss is known, however in certain autoimmune conditions, the cause or trigger of alopecia has not been determined.
Alopecia Areata is a type of hair loss that is due to an autoimmune response. The hair is lost in patches sometimes about the size of a nickel or quarter.
Alopecia Totalis is a condition that is also due to an autoimmune response but the hair loss is more extensive. In this condition most or all of the hair on the head is lost.
Alopecia Universalis involves hair that is lost on different parts of the body as well as the scalp. This is also an autoimmune condition.
A genetic type of hair loss is known as androgenetic alopecia. It may also be influenced by some environmental conditions as well. The female hair loss pattern is somewhat different that the male pattern of alopecia.
Alopecia can be a symptom of a variety of medical conditions. Some examples of these conditions might be lupus, diabetes, or thyroid conditions. These are just a few of the known conditions in which hair loss may be a symptom.
It may also be a side effect of medications that are used to treat medical conditions. An example might be the drugs that are used in chemotherapy treatments. These are used to treat different types of cancers. Alopecia can result from a combination of these drugs. This type of hair loss is temporary and the growth of hair will resume when the treatments have been completed.
Temporary hair loss following childbirth may be experienced due to a fluctuation of the hormones during pregnancy and following childbirth. This usually occurs in the months following the birth of a child. It may be just a temporary thinning of the hair until the hormonal balance is regained and the normal growth cycle of the hair resumes.