Risk Factors for Developing Alopecia

Alopecia refers to hair loss anywhere on the body. Alopecia is predominantly recognized on the scalp, but it can affect other areas of the body as well. Alopecia is further broken down by the how the areas of the body are affected: diffuse alopecia (bald spots on the head), alopecia totalis (complete baldness), alopecia universalis (complete hair loss over the entire body) and alopecia areata barbae (loss of facial hair). Alopecia is typically considered a symptom of a more complex medical problem, but patients are often more concerned about their cosmetic appearance as a result of alopecia. If you are concerned that you may be at risk for developing alopecia, here are some risk factors to consider.

Genetics

Medical research has found that alopecia tends to run in families because of a genetic predisposition. Genetics are certainly not guaranteed to cause alopecia, but patients with a family history of alopecia do have an increased risk for developing some form of alopecia.

Medical Conditions

There is an array of medical conditions which could potentially create hormonal imbalances that would lead to alopecia or chemically alter the body’s ability to grow and maintain hair. Some of these medical conditions include:

  • Vasculitis (inflammation of blood vessels)
  • Hypothyroidism (uncontrolled underactive thyroid)
  • Excessive brushing or improper hair care (known as traction alopecia)
  • Psychological stress
  • Iron deficiency
  • Psoriasis
  • Ringworm (tinea capitis) of the scalp

In addition, certain medications may also cause alopecia as a side effect, such as:

  • Amiodarone (antiarrhythmic medication)
  • Heparin (a blood-thinning agent for preventative blood clot control)
  • Clomiphene (an ovulatory medication used to incite ovulation in infertile women)
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