Causes of Natural Hair Loss: Alopecia vs Folliculitis

Causes of Natural Hair Loss: Alopecia vs Folliculitis

by | Nov 13, 2023 | Doctor's Insights, FAQs and Common Concerns, Understanding Hair Loss

As you get older you might start noticing thinner or loss of hair, which obviously no one wants! Understanding the causes behind hair loss is essential for an effective hair restoration treatment. We’ll discuss two specific conditions related to hair loss: alopecia and folliculitis. We will explore what causes these conditions, their differences, treatment options for both, potential complications, and other factors that can contribute to hair loss.


Difference Between Alopecia and Folliculitis

Both of these conditions are related to hair loss, but there are distinct differences between them. Alopecia is a general term referring to hair loss caused by various factors, while folliculitis is hair loss related to an infection of the hair follicles.

Alopecia encompasses congenital or genetic disorders, nutritional imbalances, hormonal imbalances, infections, and psychogenic factors. On the other hand, folliculitis is primarily caused by infections from bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other organisms.


Alopecia: Hair Loss and its Causes

You’ve probably heard of Alopecia, but in case you haven’t it’s a condition characterized by hair loss. There are many factors that can cause it, some congenital or genetic disorders, or factors that develop during your lifetime. Hair loss in alopecia can be from naturally occurring processes, nutritional imbalances, hormonal imbalances, an infection, and psychogenic factors. There’s also just dysfunction that can happen during a growth or resting phase of the hair follicle cycle that can result in hair loss. However, it is important to do the appropriate testing for various disease conditions before solely attributing alopecia to stress.

There are several different types of alopecia; the most common of which are androgenetic alopecia, alopecia areata, and traction alopecia. Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder that causes hair loss in small, round patches on the scalp. Traction alopecia is the result of chronic and repetitive pulling or tension on the hair. Many ballerinas and ballroom dancers suffer from this, because of how tight and perfect they must do their hair. Androgenetic alopecia is a common type of alopecia that is influenced by a combination of genetic factors and the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Androgenetic alopecia is the gradual thinning of hair over time. It is often referred to as “pattern hair loss,” for example receding hairlines in men or widening parts in women.


Folliculitis: Infection of Hair Follicles and its Causes

Folliculitis is an infection of the hair follicles caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other organisms entering the body and multiplying. Common infections that lead to folliculitis include ringworm, seborrheic dermatitis, and Piedra. Unlike alopecia, folliculitis is typically temporary and can be solved by treating the infection.

To get technical, ringworm is a fungal infection that can cause hair loss. It is highly contagious and can easily spread through contact with an infected person or animal, or by touching contaminated objects like a comb or hat. Ringworm will look like round bald spots on the scalp and will be red, scaly, and itchy. To prevent further hair loss and get rid of the infection, you’ll need to start antifungal medication.

Seborrheic dermatitis is a form of yeast that often presents as a rash with greasy skin and itching. Commonly found on areas such as the scalp, face, and chest where there are higher concentrations of sebaceous glands. This condition can be tamed with effective treatments. Medicated shampoos and creams are designed to restore balance by managing yeast overgrowth and soothing away inflammation.

Piedra is an uncommon infection caused by fungi that affects the hair, resulting in rough nodules. There are two forms: black and white, characterized by dark or light brown deposits on the hair shaft respectively. You can tackle this issue with a combination of shaving or cutting away the affected parts of the hair. Then applying antifungal cream to finish the job.


Hair Restoration Options for Alopecia and Folliculitis

When dealing with hair loss, it’s essential to understand that everyone’s situation is different. Treatment plans must be tailored to the specific cause and wide range of potential solutions. From medications and hormonal interventions to addressing imbalances, a variety of options exist to help restore your precious mane. With the right approach, you can confidently take charge of your unique circumstances and work towards achieving healthy hair.

For example, in a case of alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder, corticosteroid injections could be administered into the affected areas to suppress the immune response and stimulate hair growth. For androgenetic alopecia an option could be minoxidil, which is a topical solution to promote hair growth. If someone is experiencing hair loss due to hormonal imbalances, hormone replacement therapy would be an option to restore hormonal equilibrium and attempt to improve hair growth.

For folliculitis, because it’s infection based, you’ll need to treat the underlying infection before you can treat the hair loss. Antifungal medications are effective in treating ringworm and Piedra by eliminating the fungal infection. For seborrheic dermatitis a shampoo containing antifungal agents would be used to control the yeast overgrowth. It is important to note that treatment plans will look different for each individual. Your plan will be based on your diagnosis and condition causing the hair loss, and the severity of the condition.


Complications of Hair Loss

Hair loss can have various complications. For instance, someone experiencing hair loss may be at an increased risk of sunburn and injury to the scalp due to the absence of hair as a protective barrier. Additionally, certain types of hair loss can result in scarring alopecia or cicatricial alopecia, which occurs due to inflammation or traumatic causes. Infections can also cause scarring alopecia. It is important to address hair loss as soon as you notice it to minimize the risk of complications.


Diagnosis of Hair Loss

You won’t start at a hair restoration clinic right away; you’ll visit a dermatologist who will evaluate the pattern and characteristics of your hair loss. To diagnose the underlying cause of hair loss there will be a thorough history, skin examination, and any additional tests (i.e. hair pull test, Wood lamp examination, laboratory tests) to determine the appropriate diagnosis.


These tests are all fairly simple, a hair pull test is just how it sounds. The dermatologist will grab different sections of hair and lightly pull; if they pull out 6 or more hair strands, they would determine that you have active hair loss. The Wood lamp examination identifies fungal infections like ringworm by illuminating the affected area with ultraviolet light. This makes it easier to detect any characteristic fluorescence associated with fungal presence. Laboratory tests, such as blood tests and hormonal assessments, can provide valuable insights into nutritional imbalances and hormonal influences contributing to hair loss.


Treatment for Hair Loss

Treatment for hair loss depends on the underlying cause. For infections causing hair loss, you will need to start medication. Antifungal medications are commonly used to treat infections like ringworm and Piedra. Your doctors may also start you on dietary modifications or supplements if they determine you have nutritional imbalances that are contributing to your hair loss. You might be on some medications that could cause hair loss, and your doctor may tell you to discontinue their use to prevent further hair loss. In some cases where inflammation is a factor, your doctor may prescribe medications that suppress inflammation.

Minoxidil or finasteride, for example, can slow down hair loss and stimulate regrowth in people suffering from androgenetic alopecia. These medications stimulate hair follicles and block testosterone from converting to DHT. You might consider hair transplantation if you experience advanced hair loss from alopecia or folliculitis. This is when you could schedule a consultation with Golden Coast Hair Restoration and they would go over all the treatment options with you and discuss how to get you back to having great hair!


Conclusion

When it comes to hair loss, getting to the root of the cause is the first step towards regaining your confidence and self-esteem. Whether it’s alopecia or folliculitis, understanding the underlying causes of natural hair loss helps you get the most effective treatment possible. A personalized treatment plan tailored to your condition is essential for successful hair restoration. So, it’s important to speak to a dermatologist or healthcare professional for advice on which approach is best for you. Taking early action, having an accurate diagnosis, and managing your condition correctly will help make sure you get the results you’re hoping for. Don’t wait any longer—start your journey to hair success today!