Whether it’s wash day or you’re styling your hair before heading to work, you’ve been noticing that your comb, brush, and bathroom sink are filled with strands of your hair!
You've probably asked yourself, "Am I using the wrong products?" "Is it stress?" "Is it heat damage?" The reality is that none of those things may be to blame for your hair loss. There could be some other explanation that is causing you to lose hair with every stroke of your hairbrush.
Hair loss is something that impacts women of all ages and ethnic background.
Losing your hair can take a devastating toll on your confidence and self-image. Several factors can cause hair loss, but alopecia is becoming a common cause of female hair loss.
What is alopecia?
Alopecia, also known as alopecia areata, is an autoimmune skin disease in which the body attacks its own hair follicles. This causes hair loss on the face, scalp, and some other parts of the body (National Alopecia Areta Foundation).
There are different types of alopecia areata that cause hair loss that shows up in different patterns and areas of the scalp and body. Let’s take a look at the signs that alopecia may be causing your hair loss.
Signs that alopecia is causing your hair loss
1. Your hair is growing in one spot, but falling out in another
If it seems that your hair is growing like a weed in the front, but there is hair loss in the back and the sides, this may be a sign of a type alopecia called ophiasis alopecia areata that causes hair loss in a band like pattern in the back of the head.
2. Your ponytails are thin
If you've notice that your once, full and thick ponytail now looks thin and lifeless, it could be a sign of diffuse alopecia areata. Diffuse alopecia areata causes your hair to thin out all of a sudden.
3. Your edges are missing
If you enjoy wearing box braids, cornrows, or tight ponytails, you may notice that your hairline, aka edges, has spots that are bald or thinning. This could be a sign of traction alopecia that comes from putting too much tension on your hair strands. Traction alopecia is most commonly experienced among Black women due to tight hairstyles or hairstyles that require heavy extensions.
4. You're losing hair in patches.
Alopecia areta shows up as hair loss that forms patches on that scalp that are about the size of a coin. Not only is the scalp affected, but hair can be lost anywhere on the body.
5. You’ve lost all of your hair.
This may seem obvious, but if you've lost all of your hair, it could be due to alopecia totalis. Alopecia totalis is loss of hair over the entire scalp. Alopecia areta can become alopecia totalis over time. Alopecia universalis is a more severe form of hair loss that causes hair loss on the scalp, face, and the pubic region.
6.Changes in your nails
If your fingernails or toenails have become brittle or pitted, it could be a sign that alopecia is soon to follow.
Who’s at risk for alopecia?
Since alopecia is genetic, it can affect any woman. However, there are conditions that have an increased risk for developing hair loss such as:
Family member with alopecia
There is no cure for alopecia, but there are treatments that may help new hair to grow. Topical immunotherapy is used to trigger an allergic reaction (you read that correctly) on the scalp that will stimulate hair growth. Anti-inflammatory medications like corticosteroids can help to decrease the effects of that autoimmune attack that is causing hair loss. Rogaine can help hair grow back in about 12 weeks, but the results will vary.
If you've been diagnosed with alopecia, the most important things to do are to love and be kind to yourself. Surround yourself with positive people and if wearing a wig makes you feel beautiful, go for it!