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Do I have alopecia?

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The word ‘alopecia’ sometimes causes confusion.  The Greek term “alopex” means fox. The word alopecia is thought to derive from the Greek term alopekia which literally translated means “fox disease.”  

But the term alopecia simply means “hair loss”.  There are over 100 reasons to lose hair which means that there are over 100 types of alopecia.  When most people in the general population use the word alopecia, they are referring to a specific autoimmune hair disease called alopecia areata. Alopecia areata affects about 2 % of the population.

Individuals with hair loss want to know exactly why they are losing hair and it’s not uncommon for a patient to ask – “So, does that mean I have alopecia?” By definition, nearly every patient who comes to my hair loss clinic has alopecia.  Some, of course, do end up being diagnosed with alopecia areata, but a large proportion have one of the other 99 types of hair loss. The most common type of alopecia is androgenetic alopecia – also known as common balding. Androgenetic alopecia affects about 50-60 % of men and 30-40 % of women over the age of 40.



Dr. Jeff Donovan is a Canadian and US board certified dermatologist specializing exclusively in hair loss. To schedule a consultation, please call the Vancouver office at 604.283.9299



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