Alopecia is a general term for loss of hair. Hair loss can affect just your scalp or your entire body. It can be the result of heredity, certain medications or an underlying medical condition. Anyone—men, women, children—can experience hair loss.
The most common form is androgenetic or hereditary baldness. This is a progressive hair thinning which can occur in males and females. Telogen effluvium is another common type of hair loss which is characterized by a sudden diffuse loss of hair on the scalp sometimes occurring two to four months following a traumatic incident such as childbirth, hospitalization, emotional stress, or starting or stopping estrogen. This hair loss process may last anywhere from six to twelve months or more before stopping.
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune form of hair loss where T-cell lymphocytes attack the hair bulb resulting in quarter sized, smooth, bald patches on the scalp. This may progress to total hair loss on the scalp and even the body in 1% of patients so afflicted. A variety of treatments are available and should be discussed with a dermatologist.