Glossary for Hair loss

A glossary of the medical terms used in this guide.

A


Alopecia

This is the name given to a loss of hair on the scalp but can also include other areas of the body. There are many different types of alopecia which include alopecia areata, traction alopecia and the more common androgenetic alopecia.

Anagen

The ‘growth’ phase of the hair growth/loss cycle.

Androgenetic alopecia

Also known as male pattern baldness: this is a form of hair loss which is usually genetic in nature and accounts for the vast majority of hair loss in men.

It occurs to a lesser extent in women.

Androgens

The name given to the male hormones.

B

Bulb

The base of the hair follicle (the root)

C

Catagen

The ‘shedding’ phase of the hair growth/loss cycle.

Cuticle

The hard, outer layer of a hair strand which helps to protect it. Healthy cuticles give a shine to the hair.

D

Dandruff

A condition characterised by dry, flaking scalp.

Dihydrotestosterone (DHT)

A hormone derivative which is formed when testosterone combines with 5-alpha reductase. The main cause of male pattern baldness.

Donor site

The area of the head where hair follicles are removed, for grafting purposes, during hair transplant surgery.

Dutasteride

A medication for hair loss which prevents the formation of dihydrotestosterone.

E

Endocrine system

The name given to a system of glands in the body, which produce hormones that help regulate the normal functions of the body.

Enzyme

A protein which speeds up chemical reactions in the body.

Extension

A piece of real or artificial hair which is attached to natural hair in order to increase its length.

F

Finasteride

A hair loss medication that prevents testosterone from combining with 5-alpha reductase to produce dihydrotestosterone. Marketed as the brand name Propecia.

Follicle/s

A bulb like structure underneath the skin where hair is grown. It is comprised of a root sheath, bulb, shaft and sebaceous glands.

Each follicle contains blood vessels which transport in oxygen and nutrients to promote hair growth.

G

Grey hair

Hair which has lost its natural colour. Occurs as a result of the ageing process.

H

Hair cloning

A developmental technique which aims to create an unlimited supply of donor hair for hair transplantation.

Hair growth cycle

The normal hair growth and loss cycle in which hair passes through 3 phases on a daily basis. These phases are: anagen, telogen and catagen.

I

Intense pulse light

A form of treatment in which short bursts of light are emitted from a hand held device against the skin. This is aimed at the scalp to boost blood circulation and stimulate hair growth.

J

Jojoba oil

A type of hair product which is used to treat dry hair.

K

Keratin

A type of protein which helps with the formation of a hair strand.

L

Layering

A technique of hair cutting , reducing bulk .

M

Male pattern baldness

Often known as androgenetic alopecia. A type of hair loss common in men which starts at the temples then continues over the crown and finishes at the back of the head.

Usually caused by genetic factors.

Melanin

A substance responsible for the colour of the hair and skin.

Micro-graft

The smallest graft used in hair transplant surgery which only consists of one to two hairs.

Minoxidil

A topical lotion used to treat androgenetic alopecia.

Moisturiser

A cream used to lubricate the skin and hair structure 

N

Nutrient/s

Essential vitamins and other similar substances which help with the normal functions of the body.

 

 

 

O

Oestrogen

One of two female hormones. Produced by the woman’s ovaries, it plays an important part in her monthly ovulation cycle, and hair growth .

P

Progesterone

A female hormone that prepares the woman’s uterus for an impending pregnancy. Progesterone levels rise and fall throughout the monthly ovulation cycle.

Propecia

The brand name of the hair loss medication Finasteride.

R

Regaine

The brand name of the medication used to treat androgenetic alopecia.

Root sheaths 

Each hair strand is contained within a root sheath which consists of the cuticle, middle layer or cortex and an inner layer or medulla.

S

Sebaceous glands

Glands attached to the hair follicles which produce sebum to lubricate the hair.

Sebum

A type of oil produced by the sebaceous glands.

Shaft

The part of the hair strand which appears above the skin. It is formed from dead cells, keratin and water which have bound together to give it its cylindrical shape.

Split ends

A hair condition caused by excessive heat or use of hair products which results in hair with frizzy ends.

T

Telogen

The ‘resting’ phase of the hair growth cycle.

Testosterone

A male hormone which is responsible for the development of male characteristics.

Thyroid gland

An endocrine gland, located in the neck which controls the body’s metabolism, producing thyroxine , which is an important hormone for hair growth .

Topical/topically

To apply directly onto the scalp. Usually refers to a type of hair loss medication.

Trichologist

An individual who studies the science appertaining to hair and scalp issues .

Trichotillomania

A type of hair loss in which the patient pulls out their own hair.

U

UV light treatment

A type of hair loss treatment which is directed at areas of hair loss to stimulate blood flow, and encourage new hair growth.

V

Vitiligo

A failure of melanin production which results in patchy coloured skin and/or hair.

W

Wig

A hair piece with a cap which is worn to disguise areas of hair loss. There are two choices of wigs: synthetic hair and human hair.