While 90% of male and female pattern baldness is of genetic origin, a number of diseases may also cause other types of hair loss. while genetic baldness is impossible to reverse, hair loss from diseases usually reverse once the disease is treated without special medical treatment even though medical treatment can help speed up the hrealing process. A large portion of disease-causing loss is autoimmune disorders. However, there are many other illnesses that lead to hair loss.
Since a large number of problems occur due to autoimmune diseases, let’s take a closer look at what the immune system is. Its purpose is to protect the body from various intruders, such as bacteria and viruses. The immune system devours disease-causing cells and is a powerful defence mechanism. However, sometimes the immune system loses the ability to tell good cells from bad ones and turns against itself and starts to devour all cells. Science does not know why this happens, but this is what is referred to in medicine as an autoimmune disease.
four known autoimmune diseases are known to cause hair loss—alopecia areata, scleroderma, thyroid conditions, and lupus. each acts uniquely as it affects the body and hair.
Alopecia areata is sometimes called AA or “spot baldness” and swiftly causes round spots of hair loss. AA occurs in 1-2% of the U.S. population, and of these, 2% develop into a more serious, diffusive loss that covers larger bald spots. Since AA is an autoimmune disease, the white blood cells destroy hair follicles, which stop making hair. Occasionally, AA manifests in a diffused form covering most of the scalp (See the section in this chapter on Alopecia areata for more details on diagnosing and treating this disorder).
Scleroderma is an autoimmune disease, which results in a hardening or thickening of connective tissue at the expense of more active tissue. One of the first symptoms involves inflammation of cells in the second layer of the skin, the dermis. This comes about due to excessive collagen, a type of protein that is fibrous in nature rather than the globules found in enzymes. The excess collagen strangles the hair follicle and causes hair loss in distinct areas, which can worsen in time and result in scarring. Some refer to a form of scleroderma as “un coup de sabre” because the hair loss can resemble a scar caused by a sabre (sword). treatment for this condition involves surgery to remove the affected skin.
Thyroid conditions are another disease that causes hair loss. There are two types of thyroid dysfunctions: hyperthyroidism (too much thyroid hormone) and hypothyroidism (too little thyroid hormone). Symptoms of hyperthyroidism are weight loss, rapid heartbeat, and intolerance to heat, nervousness, and thin, sparse hair. fatigue, intolerance to cold, puffy face, dry skin, and dry, brittle hair are symptoms of the opposite condition, hypothyroidism. Acute thyroid conditions are extremely stressful and can result in telogen effluvium, a condition that causes rapid loss of hair due to shock or stress.
As of now, doctors don’t know why or how a thyroid conditions cause hair loss. In the case of hyperthyroidism, a hormone replacement called synthroid is administered to replace the missing hormone. Hyperthyroidism (too much thyroid hormone) is treated with anti- thyroid drugs, destruction of the thyroid with a number of radioactive iodine’s, and surgery to remove the thyroid.
Lupus also causes balding. At some point during the development of the disease, up to 50% of those afflicted will lose hair. Loss of hair manifests in either the temple area or appears patchy and spreads out over the head.
Lupus inflames organ tissue in two basic ways: SLE (systemic lupus erythematosus) and DLE (discoid lupus erythematosus). Since SLE is systemic, this means it can impact any part of the body, but usually does not cause scarring. The hair follicle is not directly affected, so hair usually grows back. DLE occurs in smaller patched areas and may scar during hair loss. This condition affects two skin pigmentation conditions—hyper pigmented (skin that is dark) and hypo pigmented (skin that is almost white). Other symptoms associated with this illness include scarring, redness of the skin, scales, and hair follicles that contain no hair shaft. It most often affects the head and neck, but can occur anywhere on the body.
In general, lupus can be recognized by reddish facial rashes, sun-sensitive skin, mouth sores, debilitating arthritis, low-grade fevers, and unrelenting fatigue. Lupus most commonly afflicts women between 20 to 50 years-of-age. A blood test is needed to diagnose.
Discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE) can be treated by oral medications and steroid injections to the affected areas. If diagnosed in the early stages, hair loss may be prevented. However, systemic or widespread lupus is a serious condition that can cause diseases of the lung and kidneys and result in death. Hair loss is one of the lesser concerns when battling lupus in its diffuse form. Furthermore, medication to treat the disease, such as Plaquenil, can also cause hair loss.
Additionally, anaemia, diabetes, malnutrition, and psoriasis can all cause androgynous hair loss. Anaemia involves a lack of iron which can be supplemented easily. Diabetes affects the endocrine balance in the body. Poor circulation and stress are both present in diabetic persons. each of these can cause hair loss. malnutrition usually occurs when there is a lack of zinc or essential fatty acids. today, hair loss is common among young women with anorexia and bulimia.
Any form of a chronic disease can throw off the metabolism and cause hair loss. Accidents can cause a sudden spike in stress .In men with genetic hair loss, stress can accelerate loss. In women, hair loss from stress looks a lot like the loss in telogen effluvium (more on this below). either way, hair loss caused by disease or accidents can often be reversed after full recovery from illness.