What Is Alopecia (hair loss)?

Alopecia is an autoimmune disorder where hair follicles can be attacked by your immune system and causes a person’s hair to start falling out.

It can be the result of heredity, hormonal changes, medical conditions or a normal part of aging and is most common in men. Every case of alopecia is a little different with some people’s hair growing back and then falling out again and others having their hair grow back with no further hair loss.

Baldness typically refers to excessive hair loss from your scalp with hereditary hair loss being the most common cause of baldness.

We strongly encourage you to talk to us about your options for treating hair loss to fully understand which, if any might be right for you.

Signs and Symptoms of Alopecia

Early Symptoms of Alopecia

There are a variety of causes for alopecia, affecting all kinds of people – regardless of gender, ethnicity or age. In fact while it takes more than simple genetics to cause alopecia, it can come from both parents’ genes, with stress being another trigger.

Alopecia has a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Small, circular patches of hair loss spread over the scalp
  • Thinning of the hair on the top of your scalp
  • The loss and regrowth of hair at the same time – but on different areas of your body
  • Hair that may only be missing from one side of your head and not the other

Causes of Alopecia

Before making a diagnosis, our team will give you a physical exam and ask about your diet, your hair care routine, stress level and both your medical and family history. We also may conduct one or more of the following tests:

  • Blood test
  • Pull test
  • Scalp biopsy
  • Microscope examination

Alopecia Treatments

Treatments for some types of hair loss are available with the possibility of some people being able to reverse hair loss, or slow its progression. Other treatment options for hair loss include medications and hair restoration surgery.


If your hair loss is caused by an underlying disease, treatment for that disease will be necessary. If a certain medication is causing the hair loss, your doctor may advise you to stop using it for a few months.

Medications are available to treat pattern (hereditary) baldness. The most common options include:

  • Minoxidil (Rogaine): Over-the-counter (nonprescription) minoxidil comes in liquid, foam and shampoo forms.
  • Finasteride (Propecia): This is a prescription drug for men. You take it daily as a pill.
  • Other medications: Other oral options include spironolactone (Carospir, Aldactone) and oral dutasteride (Avodart).

Hair Transplantation

In the most common type of permanent hair loss, only the top of the head is affected. Hair transplant, restoration surgery or other non-surgical procedures like light therapy can make the most of the hair you have left.

During a hair transplant procedure hair is surgically removed from the part of your head that has hair and transplanted to the balding spot. Each patch of hair has one to several hairs (micrografts and minigrafts). Sometimes a larger strip of skin containing multiple hair groupings is taken.