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Localized hair loss represents a lowered hair density on certain parts of the skin's surface. This can be caused by many reasons which stem from completely different origins. Damage to the hair follicle structure may be due to autoimmune diseases, stress, vascular changes in diabetic patients, atherosclerosis, and idiopathic (not yet investigated) reasons. Here are some of the most common causes of localized hair loss. We do not explain the well-known cause of hair loss in men, which frequently occurs with aging and is well established as androgenetic alopecia.

Alopecia Areata

In this disorder, the hair follicles are attacked by the person’s immune system, which classifies it among autoimmune disorders. Alopecia areata manifests by hair loss in round patches of variable size, usually on the scalp, but it can affect any part of the skin. This can occur in both children, adolescents, and adults, and it is usually triggered by some specific event, such as stressful situations and viral infections. The treatment consists of a high dose pulse corticosteroid therapy, which is aimed to lower the immune response affecting the hair follicles. The most frustrating thing about alopecia areata is its unpredictable course. After the corticosteroid therapy, the hair loss can stop completely, slow down, or continue. Scientists are currently working on more effective treatment approaches.

Anterolateral Leg Alopecia

This is a type of hair loss commonly occurring in older persons and adults. In many cases, it is very subtle, so it can remain unnoticed, but in men with particularly hairy legs it can be very noticeable. It usually appears on the front and lateral sides of both legs symmetrically. Although this disorder was noticed in the 1920s, it hasn’t received much attention since. The best explanation there is so far is that anterolateral leg alopecia might be a consequence of repeated friction and leg crossing. Some scientists have noticed a relationship between the occurrence of this disorder and different variations of androgenetic hair loss in men.

Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disorder affecting mainly the glucose metabolism on which the whole energy system of the body depends. Diabetes commonly creates changes on the small blood vessels which are present in almost every organ. Therefore, diabetes can damage the retina of the eyes, the kidneys, the brain, and the nerve fibers among many other organs. The small blood vessels in the skin, which supply the skin structures with blood are also damaged, which causes so called vegetative changes, most noticeable on the skin of the legs. As a result of these changes, the skin becomes thin, dry, less elastic, and the hair loss is also very dominant. Proper treatment of the disease and good control of blood glucose levels is the only secure way to prevent these and many other complications of diabetes.

Atherosclerosis

Some scientists have noticed that atherosclerotic changes of the leg blood vessels can lead to hair loss, particularly in the toe and foot region. Patients with clotted leg arteries often experience loss of hair from the skin of the affected areas, but the hair grows back again after surgical intervention which reconstitutes the normal blood flow. Hair loss due to atherosclerotic changes is more likely to occur in the elderly than in other age groups.

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