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Medical Author: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
There are many types of alopecia (baldness or hair loss), each with a different cause. Alopecia may be localized to the front and top of the head, as in common male pattern baldness. It may be patchy, as in a condition called alopecia areata. Or it can involve the entire head, as in alopecia capitis totalis (also called alopecia totalis), and it can involve hair loss of the entire body, such as in alopecia universalis. Alopecia can be caused by medications, such as from chemotherapy for cancer. It can also be a result of an underlying disease, such as with an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) and systemic lupus erythematosus. Alopecia may have no symptoms other than the loss of hair, or it can be associated with itching and/or rash of the scalp.
The word alopecia comes from the Greek alopex for "fox." Foxes are less furry when afflicted with a skin disease (the "mange") that causes them to lose their hair. When a fancier word for "baldness" was sought, the mangy fox supplied it -- "alopecia" or, if you wish, "fox-mange" -- not a very positive image to associate with baldness!
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Fauci, Anthony S., et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 17th ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2008.
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In This ArticleAlopecia Areata Article
- Alopecia areata facts
- What is alopecia areata?
- What causes alopecia areata?
- What are the different patterns of alopecia areata?
- Who is affected by alopecia areata?
- How is alopecia areata diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for alopecia areata?
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In This ArticleChild Abuse Article
- Child abuse facts
- What is child abuse?
- What are the different types of child abuse?
- What are risk factors for child abuse?
- What are symptoms and signs of child abuse?
- How do physicians diagnose child abuse?
- What is the treatment for child abuse?
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- What should people do if they suspect that a child is being abused?
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- Is ringworm contagious?
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In This ArticleLichen Planus Article
- Lichen planus facts
- What is lichen planus?
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- How is the rash of lichen planus different from that of most other common rashes?
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- What does lichen planus look like?
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In This ArticleLupus Article
- Systemic lupus erythematosus facts
- What is systemic lupus erythematosus? What are the types of lupus?
- What causes systemic lupus erythematosus? What are risk factors for lupus? Is lupus hereditary?
- What is drug-induced lupus?
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- What is the treatment for systemic lupus?
- How can a lupus patient help prevent disease activity (flares)?
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In This ArticlePeripheral Vascular Disease Article
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- Lifestyle changes
- Supervised exercise
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In This ArticleScalp Psoriasis Article
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In This ArticleSteroid Abuse Article
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In This ArticleThyroid Cancer Article
- Thyroid cancer facts*
- What is the thyroid?
- What is cancer?
- What are the different types of thyroid cancer?
- Thyroid cancer symptoms*
- How is thyroid cancer diagnosed?
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- Thyroid hormone treatment
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- External radiation therapy
- Second opinion
- Follow-up care
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- Taking part in cancer research
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