Hair loss isn't uncommon. In fact, it's probably safe to say that you know—or at least that you've crossed paths with—someone living with pattern alopecia. But do you know how to tell if your hair loss is pattern alopecia?
Alopecia is defined simply as hair loss. Pattern alopecia refers mostly to hair loss on the top and front of the scalp. In the majority of cases, this phenomenon is referred to as male or female pattern baldness. This occurs when the hair on your head or another part of your body falls out much faster than it can grow back. Of course, this isn't the only type of alopecia that exists. Alopecia areata, alopecia totalis, and alopecia universalis are all rarer forms of this disorder. In fact, they only occur in about 5% of people with alopecia. So it's likely that your hair loss isn't a warning sign of any of these more severe forms of alopecia.
Age is the number one contributor to pattern alopecia. Most body functions slow as we age, and hair growth is one of them. As a result, many older adults are living with pattern alopecia. And this disorder doesn't discriminate, either. Pattern alopecia affects people of all sexes, especially with age. For women, pattern alopecia can accompany and follow menopause. For men, more complete hair loss will typically occur at the top of the scalp. Hair loss is predictable as we age, though in men with genetic predispositions, pattern alopecia can start earlier in adulthood.
While alopecia does mean you're experiencing hair loss, not all hair loss means you have pattern alopecia. That's why it's important to know the difference between normal hair loss and problematic hair loss. For example, if you notice a few hairs in your shower drain or on your brush daily, that's normal. In fact, it's normal to shed anywhere from 50 to 100 hairs a day. But if there are clumps of hair falling out on a daily basis and you notice significant hair thinning, it may be time to seek out hair loss treatment from your doctor. In addition, sudden hair loosening is cause for concern. For some people with pattern alopecia, simple running fingers through hair can result in handfuls of it. Paying attention to your hair and how much you're losing on a daily basis can make all the difference when it comes to early detection of pattern alopecia.
Believe it or not, one of the first places you can look for early warning signs of alopecia isn't your hair at all. In fact, your nail health can often be an indicator of issues like alopecia. One of the most common warning signs in your nails is nail pitting. If you notice small pits or craters on your nail's surface, you could be looking at an early sign of alopecia. Of course, your hair health will be the best indicator. Look for brittle and thinning patches of hair. You can typically find hair like this around any area where hair loss has recently occurred. For most people, alopecia isn't extreme, but subtle differences in your hair -- and even nail -- health can tip you off.
Identifying the extent of your hair loss can help you find the alopecia treatment you need. If you're noticing early signs of hair loss and want to find answers, contact our team at North Pacific Dermatology and schedule an appointment today.