Permanent Hair Loss vs Temporary Hair Loss

by Edie Pastis
03/03/09


Hair loss is a troubling disorder that can cause a great amount of stress, personal embarrassment and social difficulties. According to HairLossLearningCenter.org, hair loss affects about 35 million men and 21 million women in the United States alone. For both men and women, a thick, full head of hair has long been associated with youth, vitality and beauty, and so both female hair loss and male hair loss is considered undesirable; although female hair loss is often met with less social acceptance than its male counterpart.

What many hair loss sufferers don't realize is that there are several distinct types of permanent and temporary hair loss that affect our hairlines today. In order to effectively treat your specific hair loss condition, it's highly important to know which type you have, and then pursue the appropriate treatment. Read on to find out more about the different types of hair loss conditions, categorized as either temporary or permanent.

Permanent Hair Loss

Androgenetic alopecia is the most standard type of hair loss, and it is a permanent condition. Androgenetic alopecia creates permanent balding and thinning of the hair as a result of a patient's genetic predisposition to hair loss, combined with the effects of the hormone DHT (dihydrotestosterone). DHT binds to genetically weak hair follicles and, over time, causes continuous weakening and permanent breaking down of the follicle until hair stops growing completely. Androgenetic alopecia causes both male pattern baldness and female pattern baldness, but it manifests itself in different ways for each gender:

  • Male pattern baldness: this type of androgenetic alopecia usually begins at the hairline, causing hair loss on the forehead and at the temples in men. Male pattern baldness can occur as early as the late teens and early 20s, and usually works backwards from the temples to eventually cause partial or total baldness on the top and sides of the scalp.
  • Female pattern baldness: androgenetic alopecia affects women differently in that it rarely results in total baldness. Rather, it causes a general thinning of the hair on the top and sides of the scalp. The receding hairline common in men is usually not exhibited by women with androgenetic alopecia.

Cicatricial alopecia, also known as scarring alopecia, is the other type of permanent hair loss, and it is considerably more rare than androgenetic alopecia. Cicatricial alopecia occurs when inflammation or scarring of the hair follicle permanently prevents new hair from growing. While scarring alopecia can result from damage to the scalp tissue, it's more often the result of an illness such as lupus, which can cause extensive tissue inflammation of the skin.

Temporary Hair Loss

Alopecia areata is a form of temporary hair loss that can occur on the scalp, in facial hair, or even in hair on other areas of the body. Technically considered an autoimmune disease, alopecia areata commonly creates hair loss in small, localized patches, but in some instances it can cover the entire scalp (alopecia totalis) or even the entire body (alopecia universalis). Alopecia areata can be caused by genetic factors or it can occur as a result of autoimmune disorders like thyroid disease.

Telogen effluvium results in sudden and drastic, although temporary, hair loss. Patients with telogen effluvium usually experience overall thinning, and they are known to lose handfuls of hair while washing or using a hairbrush. Telogen effluvium is caused by a shock to the system, such as an illness, intense psychological stress over a life incident, sudden weight loss, or nutritional deficiencies. These occurrences cause hair loss by disrupting the natural hair growth cycles, and pushing hair into the resting stage prematurely. Telogen effluvium can be hard to pinpoint sometimes since the resulting hair loss can occur on a delay, a couple weeks to a month after the stressful incident itself. Once the experience is over, however, natural hair cycles should return to normal.

Traction alopecia is another type of temporary hair loss that creates bald patches due to unnecessary pulling of the hair or constant use of tight hairstyles that can strain or damage hair follicles. Hair growth should return to normal once the strain on follicles is eliminated. If continued, excessive hair pulling could permanently scar hair follicles and cause more permanent hair loss.

What Can You Do?

Whether you're dealing with temporary or permanent hair loss as a man or a woman, there are many treatment methods available today that can help. For temporary hair loss, hair restoration treatments such as topical solutions and hair loss medications can help you restore the hairline you used to know and love. For permanent hair loss conditions, there are more intensive procedures like hair transplant surgery, which uses your own real, healthy hair follicles to implant onto trouble spots.

By meeting with a hair loss provider in your area, you can develop an appropriate treatment plan after the specialist analyzes your personal hair loss condition, and learns what your hair loss restoration goals are.

Featured Provider Near You

Bosley Hair Restoration - Schaumburg

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