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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Hair Loss
      Category : Health Centers > Skin Conditions

Hair Loss

Alternate Names : Alopecia, Baldness

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

Hair loss can occur as thinning hair or complete baldness. The hair loss may be on the head or any other part of the body that normally has hair, such as the eyebrows.

What is going on in the body?

There are many causes of hair loss. The most common form of hair loss is due to male pattern baldness, in which hair is lost from the front and top of the scalp. Other types of hair loss can create different patterns. Treatment depends on the type and cause of baldness.

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

Hair loss can be due to:

  • male pattern baldness, the most common type of hair loss, which is usually inherited from one of the parents
  • inflammation of the scalp, which can cause patchy hair loss and is often treatable
  • medications, such as chemotherapy
  • radiation therapy of the head, usually to treat cancer
  • infections, such as a fungal infection of the scalp or a sexually transmitted disease called syphilis
  • trauma to the hair or scalp, which may include certain hairstyles that constantly pull on the hair, such as tight braids
  • Certain diseases can also cause the condition:

  • low levels of iron in the body, which may also cause anemia, or a low red blood cell count
  • hypothyroidism, which is a condition caused by low levels of thyroid hormones
  • systemic lupus erythematosus, a bodywide disease that attacks many organ systems
  • very rarely, cancer
  • Female pattern baldness usually causes thinning of the hair on the top and sides of the head. Some causes of female pattern baldness are:

  • stress, including emotional stress, surgery, illness, or rapid weight change
  • hormonal changes, including those caused by pregnancy, menopause, or use of oral contraceptives
  • hormonal imbalances, such as hypothyroidism, which is a low level of thyroid hormone
  • some medications, such as those used for gout and high blood pressure
  • high levels of vitamin A


    Next section


    Hair Loss: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: Lynn West, MD
    Reviewer: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Date Reviewed: 07/27/01

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