According to abbreviationfinder, the terms hypotrichosis and “hypertrichosis” are often associated and confused, but they both have a different meaning: people suffering from hypotrichosis have less body hair than usual (Greek: hypo: less) and thus often suffer from hair loss. Instead, people with hypertrichosis have excessive hair growth due to a gene defect, which is why hair grows all over the body, especially the face. Because of this, they are often referred to as “wolf people”.
What is hypotrichosis?
Some patients experience pain on the scalp and other areas of the body that are usually very hairy. Prolonged hypotrichosis can also cause psychological problems.
Hypotrichosis is the reduced number of hairs, which is often manifested by hair loss and can be accompanied by other impairments such as growth disorders, disorders of hair shedding and ectoparasites (blood-sucking anthropoids such as mosquitoes, lice or ticks). Hypotrichosis is often associated with alopecia, or hair loss, but it is more likely to describe permanent hair loss in a specific area, while hypotrichosis is a disease in which hair fails to grow in multiple areas of the body.
The causes of hypotrichosis are similar to those of hair loss: they can be very different, but the most common origins are: genetic sensitivities, disorders of the immune system, use of medication, infectious diseases, congenital abnormalities and thyroid dysfunction.
Genetically determined hair root sensitivities often occur in men due to an impairment of the male sex hormone testosterone : the hair growth phase, also known as the anagen phase, begins to shorten and hair follicles (structures that surround the hair) begin to shrink. This leads to the production of only small, thin woolly hairs (vellus hairs) that are barely visible. Further hairs are no longer formed and the vellus hairs can either remain or also fall out.
If the immune system is disturbed, the body’s own defense cells attack the hair roots, whereupon hair growth is stopped and the hair falls out. Outside of the hypotrichosis disease, however, the hair roots can reawaken and hair production begins again; this is also called the sleep state.
Taking medication and thyroid dysfunction can lead to damage to the hair roots and hair growth to a complete stop: In the case of hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland), the thyroid gland produces too much of the hormones thyroxine and triiodothyronine, which results in damage to the hair follicles.
A gene defect is the cause of hypotrichosis with juvenile macular dystrophy : There are mutations in the CDH3 gene, which encodes a calcium-binding protein. This results in a complex heterozygosity, two differently mutated alleles.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
Hair loss is manifested by a number of clear symptoms and complaints. Initially, hypotrichosis can be recognized by the light spots that appear on different parts of the body, seemingly overnight. Some patients experience pain on the scalp and other areas of the body that are usually very hairy. Prolonged hypotrichosis can also cause psychological problems.
Many of those affected develop mental disorders in the course of the disease, such as social anxiety, depressive moods or inferiority complexes. In particular, people who suddenly lose their hair suffer from the external changes and need the support of a therapist. Depending on the cause, hypotrichosis can cause other symptoms and symptoms.
For example, if the hair loss is due to an autoimmune disease, scarring of the scalp can occur, which is often associated with pain and skin irritation. If an imbalance in the hormonal balance is the cause, other physical changes and diseases can also occur.
If the symptoms are caused by a disease of the scalp, skin symptoms can occur. Typical symptoms are reddening and itching of the scalp, dandruff and psoriasis. In addition, hypotrichosis originating in the scalp may be associated with overly dry skin.
Diagnosis & course of disease
The disease is often quickly noticeable without a special examination, especially in the case of hair loss in several parts of the body. However, a tirichogram is usually used for diagnosis; This is an examination method that determines the current status of the hair root. For this purpose, the patient must not wash their hair for at least five days before the examination, and their hair must not be colored two weeks beforehand.
Hair samples are pulled out or epilated, and the trichogram then provides information about the current growth behavior of the hair, so hair properties can be determined quickly. If parasite infestation is also found due to hypotrichosis, skin scrapings are also used for the examination: samples of healthy and diseased skin are taken with a scalpel in order to then examine them under a light microscope. In this way, the cause of the disease is better determined.
Hypotrichoses can also arise in connection with various syndromes, such as Nicolaides-Baraitser syndrome or juvenile macular dystrophy. The Nicolaides-Baraitser syndrome is a congenital disease that is associated not only with hypotrichosis, but also with short stature, malformations of the fingers and convulsions. If the aforementioned syndrome also occurs with hypotrichosis, the hair growth disorder is usually congenital.
Hypotrichosis with juvenile macular dystrophy is a very rare genetic defect that can only be inherited. It should be examined at the latest when you start school, since an accompanying visual impairment can occur in childhood. The so-called ophthalmoscopy is used for the first examination : The visible parts of the eye, such as the retina and visible arteries, are examined.
When should you go to the doctor?
If the hair loss occurs suddenly and lasts for several weeks, a doctor should be consulted. Circular hair loss must always be examined and treated by a doctor, as the symptoms are often based on a health problem. If hypotrichosis occurs in the context of scarring of the scalp without any injuries to the scalp being noticed, a doctor should be consulted. It may be caused by an autoimmune disease that needs to be diagnosed and treated by a doctor.
Infectious diseases, hormonal disorders and thyroid dysfunction are also possible causes of hair loss. Anyone who belongs to the risk groups should definitely go to the doctor with the signs of hypotrichosis. This applies in particular if the hair loss occurs suddenly or causes mental problems over the course of the hair loss.
If inferiority complexes or depressive moods develop as a result of the hair loss, it is best to consult a therapist. The treatment of the actual hypotrichosis must be closely monitored by a doctor in order to avoid any side effects and interactions with the prescribed medication.
Treatment & Therapy
In the case of androgenic hypotrichosis, both men and women have the option of taking preparations that can stop hair loss. Minoxidil is a drug that was originally used for high blood pressure, but it was found that taking the drug caused hair to grow steadily all over the body.
Minoxidil dosages are different for men and women. If hypotrichosis occurs due to an overactive thyroid, the thyroid disease should be treated.
Since hypotrichosis can have a wide variety of causes, prevention depends on the origin. If the medication is the reason for the illness, it should be discontinued. In addition, an overactive thyroid should be treated if the hair loss is associated with it.
However, the most common cause of hypotrichosis is difficult to prevent: since hair loss occurs in many parts of the body with a gene defect and is therefore hereditary, the disease cannot be completely prevented; Therapies such as medication or chemotherapy may help with prevention, but do not guarantee complete recovery.
Hypotrichosis can lead to psychological problems as the disease progresses. That is why psychotherapeutic treatment makes sense during follow-up care. This helps against inferiority complexes and depressive moods, which can occur especially with sudden hair loss.
The further follow-up treatments depend on the cause of the disease and the associated development. With an autoimmune deficiency, the scalp may scar, which can lead to irritation and pain. Redness and dandruff are also possible. These symptoms can be alleviated with the help of ointments or medication.
In consultation with the doctor, those affected learn what they can do about the problems. If hormonal changes and stress are the triggers, a change in lifestyle may help. Patients should work with their doctor or a nutritionist to create a diet.
By responding to the body’s warning signals, it is possible to reduce hair problems. Consistent aftercare focuses on nutrient-rich foods such as nuts, vegetables, fish and whole grain products. Avoiding alcohol and nicotine can also help. There are also natural remedies for well-being that have a positive effect on the patient’s complexion. Together with sufficient exercise and social contacts, the quality of life increases significantly.
You can do that yourself
In addition to medical therapy, hypotrichosis can be self-treated with the help of various home remedies and tips.
The first thing to do is stop the hair loss that caused it. Mostly stress and hormonal changes, but also an unhealthy lifestyle are responsible for the light spots on the head. It is advisable to pay attention to the body’s signals and work out a suitable diet together with a nutritionist. Foods like vegetables, whole grains, healthy oils, nuts, and fish contain important nutrients that promote hair growth. Nicotine and alcohol should be avoided. Depending on the cause, it is also possible to treat the scalp with natural remedies such as fenugreek decoction, aloe vera or healing earthto treat. Evening primrose oil also stimulates hair growth and thus reduces hypotrichosis. A proven household remedy is rubbing alcohol, which is massaged into the hair as a conditioner. Glycerin, coltsfoot flowers, and vinegar can also help with hypotrichosis. A massage promotes blood circulation and stimulates hair growth.
If these measures do not reduce the hypotrichosis, the lack of hair must be accepted. The often reduced self-esteem can be restored by various measures, for example by exercising or participating in a self-help group.