Hair Loss Glossary

Need some help understanding the various different terms used in the hair loss industry? We understand. To help you in your endeavor we have put together a succinct list of the most commonly used terms in the hair loss industry when it comes to hair loss treatments, conditions, and products.

Alopecia

Alopecia is the term used by hair loss experts to refer to hair loss of any type in a broader sense. For instance, hair loss that is caused by a genetic predisposition, a functional disorder, or a disease-such as cancer.

Alopecia Areata

Alopecia Areata is an autoimmune disorder whereby the body attacks its own hair follicles. People who suffer from Alopecia Areata tend to suffer from marked bald spots on the beard, scalp, eyelashes, and other parts of the body where hair may grow.

Alopecia Marginalis

A form of Alopecia that is caused by the perpetual traction of hair extensions and/or braiding.  Hair loss is usually found at the temples and hairline, and hair loss may become permanent if the condition is left untreated; including in events where the braiding is discontinued.

Alopecia Totalis

A type of Alopecia Areata that is characterized by complete loss of hair on the scalp (e.g., complete baldness).

Anagen

Refers to the growth phase of hair follicles in the body. Will last anywhere from 2 to 5 years in most humans.

Androgenetic Alopecia

A form of hair loss that is caused by a person’s genetic predisposition to the effects of the male sex hormone DHT. It causes thick and strong hairs to be replaced by miniaturized thin hairs that will eventually stop forming altogether. Androgenic Alopecia is also more commonly known as male or female pattern baldness.

Catagen

Marks the hair stage or cycle between the anagen (growth) and telogen (rest) hair stages. During the transitional stage the follicles will stop producing hair and the follicular base will begin to move upwards until it penetrates the dermal layer of the skin. The catagen stage tends to last between two to four weeks. 

Dihydrotestosterone (DHT)

DHT is an androgen, or male sex hormone, that has been scientifically proven to cause follicular miniaturization and subsequent hair loss. DHT is created when the 5 alpha-reductase enzyme interacts with the male hormone testosterone.

Female Pattern Alopecia

A form of hair loss that is diagnosed as a progressive thinning of the top and front of the scalp, while the frontal hairline is generally left unaffected. Moreover, unlike male pattern baldness, female pattern alopecia is not solely the result of a genetic predisposition to the affects of androgens such as DHT.

Finasteride (Propecia)

Finasteride is a FDA-approved medication that is currently available via prescription only. It is also currently only available to treat hair loss in men, and is available in a pill form that is taken daily.

Hair Transplantation

A form of surgery whereby the surgeon extracts minute plugs of skin that contain a few hair strands and then implants the hair plugs into bald spots on the scalp. The plugs are generally removed from the sides and/or back of the patient’s scalp.

Laser Therapy

Laser Therapy involves using low-level laser devices that are placed on top of the head and may help promote cellular energy in hair follicles; helping trigger hair growth. These devices are also FDA-cleared and do not require a prescription, and studies have found that they may improve hair thickness and slow down the hair loss process.

Male Pattern Baldness

Male pattern baldness, which is also known as common baldness or Androgenetic Alopecia, is the most common form of hair loss in the world. It is believed to be caused by the harmful effects of the male sex hormone DHT on hair follicles. Male pattern baldness is characterized by the formation of a horseshoe pattern on the scalp caused by pronounced hair loss on the top, crown, and front of the scalp.

Minoxidil (Rogaine)

Minoxidil is a FDA-approved drug that is available over-the-counter in a foam or liquid form. It is applied twice a day on the scalp and is used to help promote newfound hair growth and slow down the hair loss process. Both men and women can use Minoxidil to treat hair loss.

Norwood Classification

The Norwood Classification was published in 1975 by Dr. O’tar Norwood and is the most commonly used classification to describe hereditary hair loss in males. The conventional Norwood pattern classification consists of 7 progressive stages that commence with crown thinning and temple recession.

Saw Palmetto

A commonly used herbal treatment to help reduce hair loss. It is commonly used to treat prostate issues, and is currently not a FDA-approved hair loss treatment; although anecdotal evidence would indicate that it may be somewhat effective in slowing down that hair loss process. Can be taken as a daily supplement.

Stem Cell Therapy

An advanced form of hair loss treatment that may permanently cure hair loss in the future. Consists of using pluripotent cells to create new cells that can promote the growth of new, strong, and healthy hair. Pluripotent stem cells from a patient can be transformed into virtually any cell known to science, and can be used to form dermal papilla cells that can then be transplanted back into the patient to promote new hair formation.

Telogen

Telogen refers to the resting phase of hair, which lasts between two to four months.  During this period new hairs will begin to form, forcing old hairs to be pushed out and shed in the process.

Telogen Effluvium

Characterized by a condition that develops two to three months after a traumatic injury to the scalp has occurred.  Up to 50% of a patient’s hair may be affected, and up to 300 hairs may be shed per day. Also, far more women are affected by the condition than men.

Tinea Capitis

Refers to a scalpel infection caused by fungal growth. It is characterized by the development of tiny crusts at the follicular base of the scalp. Also referred to as ringworm of the scalp, it can lead to permanent hair loss-in small patches-if not treated in time.

Trichotillonmania

Refers to an obsessive compulsive disorder that involves vigorously pulling out one’s hair. It is most commonly found in females aged 6 to 30, and may also involve the pulling of eyebrow hairs and the plucking of eyelashes.