Alopecia explained

27 February 2020

Spire Methley Park Hospital's Consultant Dermatologist Dr David Fairhurst answers commonly asked questions about alopecia.

What is alopecia?

Alopecia is the medical term for hair loss or hair thinning. 

What causes alopecia?

There are many different causes for alopecia. Each type of alopecia has a specific diagnosis and treatment options.

The most common causes of alopecia include:

  • Alopecia Areata – an autoimmune condition
  • Female pattern hair loss (sometimes known as androgenic alopecia)
  • Inflammatory conditions that damage hair follicles – eg Frontal fibrosing alopecia and Lichen planopilaris

How is alopecia diagnosed?

Having a confirmed diagnosis is a very important step for all patients with alopecia. Experts in the management of alopecia can usually inform patients of their diagnosis simply by examination of their scalp.

On rare occasions a skin biopsy will be recommended to confirm or reach a diagnosis. Sometimes blood tests are recommended to see if additional factors are contributing to the hair loss.

How is alopecia treated?

Each diagnosis has different treatment options. These options are discussed with patients so that they are aware of what to expect and any potential side effects. Patients can then decide which they would like to proceed with.

Depending on the diagnosis treatment options could include:

  • Prescribed topical agents to apply to the scalp
  • Steroid injections, to the affected areas of the scalp
  • Prescribed tablet treatments

Will my hair regrow? Will this happen again?

Knowing what to expect in the future is very important. This will be explained alongside the diagnosis and treatment options.

Book an appointment with Consultant Dermatologist Dr David Fairhurst.

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