Alopecia at different stages of life

Hair health is affected by many factors. From hormonal activity to nutrition, stress, and genetics or aging itself, there are many circumstances that come together to trigger hair loss. That is why it is important to understand alopecia at different stages of life and the causes behind it. This is the only way to effectively stop it, always with the diagnosis and guidance of a medical specialist.

Alopecia in childhood

Hair loss in children is a concern that goes beyond aesthetics because it can have a very relevant impact on their self-esteem and emotional well-being. Although rare, there are several types of alopecia that can occur in childhood, with various causes. 

It is essential to bear in mind that alopecia in children can be a symptom of relevant diseases, such as hypothyroidism or lupus erythematosus, as well as the result of a deficient diet. It may also be congenital in origin. Nevertheless, it is essential to seek medical attention for proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Types of alopecia in children and causes

The alopecia areata is one of the most common types of childhood alopecia. Of multifactorial origin, its root is immunological, with great genetic influence. It manifests itself mainly in the occipital and temporal areas, although in the most acute cases it can lead to total hair loss. 

 Traumatic alopecia also known as traction alopecia, develop mainly due to the excessive use of hairstyles that exert a strong tension on the hair, weakening it and causing it to pull out.

On the other hand, trichotillomania involves the compulsive pulling out of one’s own hair and is common in children, affecting not only the scalp, but also eyebrows and eyelashes. It is generally related to anxiety processes and usually requires psychological intervention. It often begins during childhood or adolescence.

Alopecia caused by childhood diseases may occur due to nutritional deficiencies or anemia. In addition, situations of stress, anxiety, medical treatments such as chemotherapy, endocrine diseases, chronic pathologies or surgeries can trigger hair loss. In these cases, once the underlying condition is resolved, hair loss usually stops.

Another type of hair loss that affects young children is occipital alopecia, which affects infants. It is not caused by the head rubbing against the crib or stroller, as is often believed. The explanation is that, at 20 weeks of gestation, the scalp has growing hair (anagen phase). With time, these hairs begin to fall out, except for those located in the occipital area, which continue to grow and then fall out during the first three months of life.

On the other hand, congenital triangular alopecia is characterized by the presence of a hairless area on the side of the head (temporal area) from birth. Its origin is congenital, and it is a permanent condition.

Also, alopecia can be the result of fungus in the hair. Although it is a temporary hair loss that usually subsides as soon as the infection is overcome. Early treatment is key to prevent alopecia from becoming permanent.

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Treatments for childhood alopecia

The management of alopecia in childhood requires a delicate and specialized approach. As in adults, treatments vary according to the type and cause of alopecia. Topical corticosteroids or corticosteroid injections into the scalp may be used for alopecia areata. In cases of traumatic alopecia, it is crucial to address the behaviour causing the hair loss and offer emotional support. In some cases, dermatologists may recommend treatments that stimulate hair growth, such as photobiomodulation.

If we are dealing with an advanced case of fungal infection in the hair, it will be treated with oral or topical antifungals, lotions and selenium sulfide shampoos, combined with drugs such as griseofulvin or itraconazole.

Alopecia in adolescence

In this stage full of physical and emotional changes, alopecia can be related to various factors, although hormonal changes are usually the most common cause. 

Types of alopecia in adolescents and causes

It is a rare condition, but can occur due to genetic causes, hormonal changes, stressful situations, diseases such as fungus, poor diet or the use of aggressive hair products, heat tools or tight hairstyles. At these ages, androgen production may play an important role in alopecia, particularly in androgenic alopecia. Androgens, such as testosterone, can affect the hair growth cycle.

In summary, the most common alopecia in adolescence are the following: telogen effluviumandrogenic alopecia (in both boys and girls, with hormonal and genetic causes) and alopecia areata. Traction alopecia, tinea capitis or trichotillomania are less common, and fungal infections of the hair may also occur, causing temporary hair loss.

Treatment of alopecia in adolescents

As at any age, an accurate diagnosis is essential to find the most appropriate treatment and achieve results. As a general rule and in the most frequent alopecia in adolescents, treatment may include the following Minoxidil Finasteride and corticoids or immunomodulators in the case of alopecia areata. Hair transplants are also an option in the most severe cases. At Insparya we perform them on patients who are at least 18 years old.

In all these cases and in addition to pharmacological treatment, hair treatments are of immense help. MesoHAir+ hair mesotherapy, ActivePlasma or photobiomodulation, applied separately or combined to enhance their effects. It is also a good idea to include a sebum-regulating shampoo in your daily routine, such as Insparya’s No Grease by Insparya which helps oxygenate the skin and hair, eliminating excess oiliness that can be very common in adolescence.

The psychological and social impact of alopecia in adolescents should not be overlooked. Physical appearance is a vital part of your identity and self-perception, so hair loss can generate anxiety and even trigger depression, significantly affecting your social life. For this reason, psychological support must be considered to cope with alopecia, to promote a positive self-image.

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Alopecia in adulthood

Undoubtedly, androgenic alopecia is the most common form of hair loss in adults, both in women and men, with different approaches depending on how advanced it is. But there are also other causes besides genetics and hormones that can cause hair loss in adults.

Types of alopecia in adults and its causes

 Androgenic alopecia usually manifests itself around the age of 40, although it can appear in the male population from the age of 20 and more markedly in women after menopause. Its origin lies mainly in genetics, although hormonal factors may also play an important role in its development.

In men it usually begins with a receding hairline and hair loss in the crown area. It is related to male genetic sensitivity to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). In women, it is characterized by diffuse hair loss on the top of the head without a clear receding hairline. 

Another common type of alopecia in adults is alopecia areata, which affects both sexes. Hair loss occurs in the form of patches on the scalp but also on other parts of the body. In the most acute cases it can lead to total alopecia, with complete loss of hair on the head, or alopecia universalis, to which is added hair loss on the rest of the body.

In addition, traction alopecia is relatively common in women due to aggressive hairstyles that cause too much tension, resulting in gradual hair loss.

In addition, the appearance of fungus on the scalp, due to lack of hygiene, sharing personal items (combs, towels, etc.) or having contact with infected animals, can trigger hair loss that can be reversed if the infection is treated in time.

Male and female alopecia: differences and similarities

As mentioned earlier, alopecia affects both men and women, although the manifestations, causes and patterns of hair loss may differ significantly.

In men, androgenic alopecia is the most common form of hair loss.  Symptoms begin with the weakening of the hair, which becomes increasingly thin, fragile and dull. The density decreases over time, caused by the miniaturization of the hair, which is visibly lost first in the area of the receding hairline. In women, the pattern of hair loss is more diffuse. Moreover, postpartum may suffer from a noticeable telogen effluvium, but it is usually temporary. Also, at menopause, women experience a decrease in estrogen and progesterone levels, which can lead to increased sensitivity to DHT and contribute to hair loss. 

Treatments for alopecia in adulthood

The most common treatments for androgenic alopecia in adulthood include Minoxidil and Finasteride, to slow hair loss and stimulate hair growth. Also, telogen effluvium can be treated by identifying and addressing the underlying cause, such as stress or nutritional deficiencies. 

Alopecia areata, an autoimmune condition that causes sudden loss of patches of hair, can be treated with topical corticosteroids, steroid injections or immunomodulatory therapies. Traction alopecia, caused by constant tension in the hair follicles, can be treated by avoiding tight hairstyles and pulling, allowing the hair to recover over time. In some cases, topical treatments, vitamin supplements and hair treatments may be used to strengthen the hair and improve its health. All this without losing sight of the fact that the only definitive way to say goodbye to alopecia is a hair transplant.

Alopecia in the elderly

Hair loss in the elderly can be caused by diseases or the use of medications, although it should not be forgotten that androgenic alopecia affects 80% of men throughout their lives, to a much greater extent as they age. The common perception is that hair loss in the elderly is a problem that mainly affects men. However, it is estimated that more than 50% of women over the age of 50 will experience noticeable hair loss.

Types of alopecia in the elderly and causes

Sudden hair loss in old age may be an indication of a more serious underlying condition that requires treatment, such as a symptom of cancer. It is crucial to seek medical attention if you experience sudden hair loss in old age for proper diagnosis and treatment. Thus, it is useful to identify whether there is an iron deficiency, hypothyroidism, diabetes or in general poor nutrition, or even a fungal infection of the scalp. Likewise, there are common medications in the elderly that can cause alopecia, such as antidepressants, anticoagulant treatments, those used to treat gout, as well as chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

However, androgenic alopecia is undoubtedly the most frequent among men and older women. However, it should not be forgotten that over the years the production of collagen in the body is reduced, in addition to slowing down cell renewal. This implies a decrease in both the quantity and quality of hair, in addition to favoring the appearance of gray hair.

Treatments for alopecia in elderly people

As in any other time of life, diagnosis is key to choosing an effective treatment. Pharmacological treatment with Minoxidil or Finasteride are viable options to stop alopecia in the elderly and significantly improve the quality of natural hair. But it is also a good idea to combine them with mesoHAIr+ hair mesotherapy, Activeplasma or photobiomodulation, which help to improve hair loss without the need for oral medication.

But, is a hair transplant advisable for the elderly? The above measures are effective in slowing alopecia and improving the quality of the hair that is still present, but they do not generate new hair growth in areas where there has already been hair loss. In such cases, the only method to recover hair in those areas is through hair transplantation, which in older people with a suitable donor area gives very good results. It is a simple procedure for the patient, with a quick recovery time, and at Insparya’s clinics it is very comfortable, as the number of hours of surgery has been significantly reduced.

At Insparya we have a medical team specialized in hair health capable of identifying the causes of alopecia with total precision, which is key to stopping it. If you have noticed that your hair has started to fall out or is falling out more than usual, contact us  to receive your free diagnosis.