Choosing the best blood pressure drug depends on the patient
Dear Dr. Roach: What is alopecia? -- S.
Answer: The word "alopecia" means "hair loss," and there are several different patterns. The word itself borrows from an animal disease. It's from the Greek, meaning "fox mange," a parasitic disease causing hair loss. (Many animals get mange.)
When people say alopecia, they are often referring to alopecia areata, a common type of non-scarring hair loss. It occurs in discrete round patches, usually on the scalp, but can occur in any hair-bearing areas and in different patterns. Nails may also be affected. Thyroid disease is commonly associated with alopecia areata, but it is generally considered an autoimmune disease.
A severe form of alopecia areata is alopecia totalis, which is total loss of scalp hair. Another is alopecia universalis, which is loss of all hair on the body, including eyebrows and eyelashes.
There are many other forms of alopecia, some of which damage and scar the hair follicles. These should be treated by an expert. Dermatologists specialize in diagnosis and management of hair loss.
Dr. Roach regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but will incorporate them in the column whenever possible. Readers may email questions to ToYourGoodHealth@med.cornell.edu or send mail to 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803.
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