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Alopecia (Essay Sample)


Brief discussion on alopecia, Several differential diagnosis methods, treatments, and prevention measures

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[Date of Submission]
Alopecia is a common condition that affects men, women and children. It is a resulting state of effluvium, a technical term given to hair loss, and thus, alopecia can be referred to as partial or complete loss of hair (Kahan, Miller and Smith 18). Alopecia may present significant loss or absence of hair affecting the scalp or other hair-bearing parts of the body (Kahan, Miller, and Smith 18). Similarly, hair loss accompanies normal growth, and human tend to shed hair every day, regardless of the season (Brooks and Robertson 221). Human shed up to 200 scalp hair per day, which is normal, however, for many males, and smaller number females, the failure of the hair to re-grow results to baldness (Brooks and Robertson 221).
Kahan, Miller and Smith, characterize alopecia as scarring, also referred to as cicatricial and non-scarring (18). Scarring alopecia is caused by several dermatological conditions that also affect glabrous (non-hairy) skin, and can be difficult to diagnose, where as non-scarring alopecia is more common and largely differentiated by the absence of detectable inflammation of the involved skin (Kahan, Miller and Smith 18). In light with this, there a plethora of facets that cause alopecia, and they encompass; diseases, and the immune system's white blood cells, which attack the rapidly growing cells in the hair follicle, thence, amounting to shrinking of the follicle and reduction of hair production (Marshall Cavendish Corporation 40). The most common diseases that cause alopecia comprise of; diabetes, lupus, thyroid disorder, secondary syphilis, and fungal infection (Marshall Cavendish Corporation 40). Also, poor nutrition, such as protein or iron deficiency, medical treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy, and uses of drugs, medical conditions, and hereditary disorder, can actuate alopecia (Marshall Cavendish Corporation 40).
In line with this, the disease affects different parts of the body, as well it interferes with the hair growth cycle, which comprises of three crucial stages; transitional phase (catagen), resting phase (telogen) and anagen (growing phase) (Verret 9). Consequently, different forms of alopecia are exhibited; alopecia areata, which is a result of an immune disorder, and characterized by hair falling out in patches or clumps, androgenetic alopecia, alopecia totalis, alopecia universalis and alopecia effluvium (Itami and Inui 497). The principal symptom of the disease is hair loss, which is manifested through different stages. The processes in every stage are gradual, in turn making the stages difficult to discern (Marshall Cavendish Corporation 40). In tandem to this, the prevalence of the disease varies with the type and the genetic composition of the people, and the prevalence of androgenic alopecia and alopecia aerate are significantly unknown (Verret 11). Further, several studies have reported that more than 95 percent of Caucasian men have androgenic alopecia followed by East Indians, Asians and Africans, and the incidences increase with age and show ethnic difference (Verret 11).
Diagnosis of alopecia is usually based on appearance and structure of hair loss. The key method of diagnosis is the differential diagnosis, which is fundamental, as it assists in determining the types of the alopecia for adept treatment (Kahan, Miller and Smith 19). In conjunction to this, there are different tests done during the diagnosis; scalp biopsy is the most common test, and it is often necessary when the diagnosis of the hair loss is in question (Verret 20). The biopsy is usually performed at the edge of a bald patch, and it can aid in the identification of infections, some autoimmune disease, alopecia areata, systemic sclerosis, and neoplasms (Verret 20). Pluck test is also an essential test, and it is always utilized to examine the hair bulb, and determine the exact phase of the hair cycle (Verret 20). In addition, hair count with particular devices can also be undertaken for adequate provision of an objective evaluation of diagnosis (Verret 20). Other non-invasive tests include pull test, which involves gentle pulling of hair, and then analysis of the number of hairs shed after slight tractions of scalp and trichoscopy, which entails both trichogram and trichoscan methods that examine the hair and scalp (Martinez 80).
Conventionally, there are different medications that may stimulate the growth of hair back, at least temporarily; nevertheless, none of these treatments offer a permanent solution to the prevention of hair loss (Marshall Cavendish Corporation 40). The most common treatments include convenient application of corticosteroids, anti-inflammatory drugs that suppress the immune system, and causation of an irritant or allergic reaction to promote hair growth (Marshall Cavendish Corporation 40). Photo- chemotherapy is also another crucial form of alopecia treatment, and it entails the issuance of a light-sensitive drug to the affected, then exposure to an ultraviolet source, however, the treatment is known to carry risks of skin cancer (Marshall Cavendish Corporation 40). Other forms of treatments include surgical options-...
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