Hair loss can be confusing and stressful at the best of times, but thanks to an article published in UK tabloid, The Sun, people may be left more baffled than ever.
In a 23rd August 2018 report on reality TV star Vicky Pattison experiencing Traction Alopecia, the journalist confused this with Alopecia Areata, comparing the shedding she explained was the result of wearing hair extensions, to the struggles of fellow celebrities Jada Pinkett-Smith and Gail Porter. Pinkett-Smith has the patchy, scalp-only form of Alopecia Areata, whilst Porter has lost all her hair – scalp and body – to the more severe form, Alopecia Universalis.
What is the difference between Traction Alopecia and Alopecia Areata?
There are many differences between these two conditions, from how they present to who they can affect.
Traction Alopecia is a fully-preventable form of hair loss that is caused by excessive strain being placed on the hair follicles – often the result of repeatedly wearing hair extensions or tight hairstyles. It causes receding around the hairline and temples, due to these being the key areas affected by the tension, as well as at the sites styles have been fixed, and is frequently accompanied by hair breakage.
Though generally a temporary hair loss condition, it can cause permanent baldness in the affected areas if the cause is not removed and the follicles allowed to recover. Hair growth in mild cases where the follicle has not been destroyed, should return to normal when the hair is worn naturally for a few months. In these cases as well as if the hairloss is more significant though, again, as long as the follicle is still functioning, Traction Alopecia Treatment may help to accelerate recovery.
Alopecia Areata, on the other hand, is an autoimmune disorder which causes a disruption to the hair growth cycle. As a result, the body shuts down normal hair production to varying degrees and in any number of hair-bearing areas. It can be temporary or on-going, or may recur, and affects men, women and children. Whether the bald patches are as small as a coin or encompass the whole scalp, its precise cause has not yet been established but it can be triggered by a sudden shock or trauma, though a number of other factors are also thought to contribute to its onset, including allergies and a genetic propensity.
The scalp only, mildest form – for which Alopecia Areata Treatment is often possible – is known as Alopecia Areata, as is the group of conditions as a whole. This group encompasses more severe forms of autoimmune alopecia which cause baldness of the whole head, and from head-to-toe, with the most severe phenotypes currently having no truly effective, reliable treatment options.
Frequent misuse of ‘alopecia’
The Sun is by no means the only publication to circulate misleading information regarding hair loss. Most confusion seems to come from the word ‘alopecia’. This term simply means ‘hair loss’ though it has also been co-opted as shorthand for Alopecia Areata in all its forms. This is why it is extremely important to clarify which hair loss condition is being referred to when the word ‘alopecia’ is used.
For instance, Traction Alopecia has cosmetic causes, Alopecia Areata is autoimmune in nature and both Androgenic Alopecia (Female Pattern Hair Loss) and Androgenetic Alopecia (Male Pattern Baldness) are genetic. They all present in different ways, with different treatment solutions being offered in each case.
When researching hair loss, it is advisable to always look to credible specialist and medical sources for information rather than news or lifestyle publications. Anyone concerned about shedding – whether it is sudden hair fall, a receding hairline, or generally thinning hair – can find plenty of information online but a personal consultation with a hair expert can get to the root of the problem – and remedies – quicker.
A consultation with a professional hair specialist can help to answer your questions and, through an examination of your scalp, provide an informed diagnosis and tailored recommendations for appropriate hair loss solutions.
The Belgravia Centre is an organisation specialising in hair growth and hair loss prevention with two clinics and in-house pharmacies in Central London, UK. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which includes the world’s largest gallery of hair growth comparison photos and demonstrates the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time to arrange a free consultation.