Why is My Hair Loss in Patches?'

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Name: Gene

Question: Why is my hair loss in patches one at the back of my head just above the nape and left a bit, and another just above my ear? The one at the back's golf-ball sized and the other one's more like 50p sized. My dad is bald, is this how it starts? I'm only 18!

Answer: Hi, Gene. We would need to see you to make a confirmed diagnosis, but what you describe here sounds very much like hair loss from the mildest form of the autoimmune disorder Alopecia Areata.

Normal Hair Growth Cycle versus Hair Growth in Alopecia Areata

This occurs when the hair growth cycle is disrupted and becomes stalled. Reasons for this include sudden shock or trauma, allergies and a genetic aspect is also suspected in some cases.

The patches the hair fall causes can be singular or in multiples, and can be small - around the size of a £1 coin - to far larger, and may even join up, causing larger bald areas across the scalp.

In instances where the patchy hair loss comes on suddenly and only affects areas of the scalp, it will generally clear up of its own accord, with usual hair regrowth resuming within 12 months. To help accelerate this process, or where the bald spots are more stubborn, Alopecia Areata treatment is possible.

At Belgravia this involves the use of topical applications of high strength minoxidil directly to the affected areas. As Alopecia Areata bald patches on the scalp are temporary, treatment does not need to be on-going once normal hair growth has resumed.

Although, as before, a genetic element is suspected, unless your dad is bald due to one of the more extensive types of Alopecia Areata which can cause total baldness of the head, or from head-to-toe, it is unlikely your father's hair loss is related to your own.

If your dad went bald after years of thinning hair and/or a receding hairline, it is likely he has the hereditary condition Male Pattern Baldness, which is unrelated to Alopecia Areata in any of its forms. It also happens gradually and only affects the area of the scalp from hairline to crown, plus it does not cause rounded bald spots - the hallmark of Alopecia.

That is not to say you will not develop Male Pattern Hair Loss in the future - this is entirely possible if the relevant genes are in your blood line - but what you are currently experiencing does not appear to be this.

We recommend having a consultation with a professional hair loss specialist who can confirm this diagnosis and explain your options for treatment, should you decide to explore this.

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The Belgravia Centre

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