Hair Loss Glossary

Get to Grips With Hair Loss Terminology Used Throughout Our Website

The last thing we want is for you to be confused by a list of scientific terms, so to help you understand the symptoms, causes and treatment of hair loss, as well as potential cures we have provided below an explanation of some terms you may not be familiar with.

A list of Hair Loss related terminology:

Alopecia: Another word for baldness, Alopecia comes in many different forms. Alopecia may be localized to the front and top of the head (as in common male and female pattern baldness) or it may be patchy – a condition described as alopecia areata. If alopecia areata balding occurs across the entire head, specialists refer to the condition as alopecia totalis; if it affects the entire body then it’s known as alopecia universalis. There are many different causes of (factors in) Alopecia such as genetics, age, stress, dietary issues, iron deficiency in women, disease or drugs/medications etc.... 

Anagen: Hair grows in cycles - anagen, catagen and telogen. Anagen is the growing phase of hair, lasting between two and seven years (depending on many factors including genetics). 

Bonding: A term used to describe the fixing additional strands of hair to your natural hair. The additional hair that is used may be synthetic or human and is attached to one’s hair and/or scalp. 

Catagen: The middle (transition) stage between the anagen (growing) and telogen (resting) phases of the hair's growth cycle.

Cortex: The cortex is the main structure of the hair shaft. The cortex makes up for 90% of hair’s weight and determines the colour, texture and denier or thickness of each individual hair.

Cyproterone Acetate: This drug is often used to reduce a man’s excessive sex drive but it is also prescribed to women to treat hirsuitism and alopecia.

DHT (Dihydrotestosterone)- Testosterone is the male hormone responsible for the development of all of the male secondary sexual characteristics like male hair patterns on the body, hair on the face and oily skin. Testosterone can be converted in the body to dihydrotestosterone by the enzyme 5-apha-reductase in genetically predisposed individuals. Studies have shown that 95% of male baldness and hair loss is caused by Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) 

Female Pattern Baldness (FPB) is the female equivalent of male pattern baldness. Progressive thinning of hair caused by genetics, age, and hormones. Usually develops at a much slower rate than male pattern baldness.  Manifests differently than male pattern baldness in that it most women with FPB don’t experience receeding hairline.  Often the original hairline remains virtually unchanged but the hair through the top and crown of the head thins evenly all over whereas hair in the sides and back/nape of the head generally doesn’t’ usually thin out and remains at its original density.

Flap Surgery or Flap Rotation: A type of hair replacement surgery which relocates an entire strip of hair bearing scalp intact from the side of the head to the frontal hairline area.

Follicular Unit Transplantation: An advanced form of hair transplantation in which the surgeon harvests individual hair roots or small groups of 2-3 hair roots from the donor area of a patients scalp (generally back or nape) and grafts them to balding sections of the scalp, generally on the vertex, top and frontal areas of the head.

Frontal Alopecia: Hair loss at the front of the head.

Gene Therapy: A treatment method that involves the manipulation of an individual's genetic makeup to try and fix the defective gene

Hair Weaving: A process by which a hairpiece (synthetic or human hair) is attached to existing hair through braiding or another interweaving process.

Hypothyroid: Hypothyroidism is caused due to lack of thyroid hormone in the body and it can often result in hair loss, thinning of the hair or a change of texture (dry and brittle). 

Male Pattern Baldness: More than 95% of hair thinning in men is male pattern baldness often referred to as androgenic alopecia. This type of hair loss is often caused by hormones, genes, and age and is progressive in nature. It is often characterized by hair receding from the lateral sides of the forehead and/or a thinning crown which can lead to loss of all hair on top of the head, thus causing a U-shape pattern/fringe of remaining hair.

Minoxidil: A prescription and/or over-the-counter pharmacy medication which when topically applied to the areas of scalp with thinning hair may, in many cases, slow or stop hair loss and may promotes hair regrowth. Minoxidil originated and was created initially as a drug for hyper-tension-(high blood pressure), but it was discovered that some individuals taking the drug often grew extra hair.  From this discovery, was born topical Minoxidil.

Norwood Scale: A scale for the classification of hair loss, created by hair transplant surgeons. There are seven levels of hair loss in the Norwood scale:
I – normal head of hair with no visible hair loss
II- The hair is starting to recede in a wedge shaped pattern
III- Same as two, but it is now more prominent as the hairline has receded deeper into the frontal area and the temporal area.
lV- The hairline has continued to recede from stage 3 in the frontal region and temporal area and a bald spot has started to appear at the back of the head.
V- Same as four coupled with much thinner hair coverage 
VI- The bridge of hair over the head is gone but several strands of short fine hair may remain.
VII- The hair is now receding all the way back to the base of the head and the sides are just above the ears.

Retin-A: A brand name for a prescription acne medication. Has in some cases shown to be effective against hair loss. However, for some people it can cause extreme scalp irritation thus making hair loss worse.  It is also known as Tretinoin and is the carboxylic acid form of Vitamin A.

Senescent Alopecia: If often known as ‘Involutional Alopecia’ as it is the type of hair loss that naturally occurs with age. This occurs in varying degrees in both women and men and is characterized by the general thinning of both hair diameter and density. 

Telogen: The resting phase of the hair cycle that usually lasts approximately three months.  

Telogen Loss: also known as telogen effluvium Loss of hair during resting phase of hair or "natural" loss. This is often characterized by the thinning or shedding of hair resulting from the early entry of hair in the telogen phase. This can often be caused by emotional or psychological stress, eating disorders, fever, anemia, drugs or major surgery. 

Temporal Recession: Hair loss in the temple region. This is the most stubborn area of hair loss to rectify and is most common in men. 

Traction Alopecia: This refers to hair loss that occurs due to traction placed on hair. Traction alopecia is commonly seen with tight braids, pony tails, and other hairstyles that create traction on the scalp. Traction alopecia is a substantial risk in hair weaves and is one of the most common causes of hair loss in African and African American women.

Vellus Hair: Vellus Hair is the fine, non-pigmented hair (peach fuzz) that covers the body of children and adults but is not always visible as they lack a central medulla. 
Wig: A covering for the head made of real or artificial hair, often used to conceal baldness