Hair Loss Glossary Right Here!

A Hair Loss Glossary is a great reference tool that shouldn't be left out. Since Rare Secrets Hair believe it’s important to educate yourself about the findings and causes so you would be able to examine the latest therapies and treatments available, to decide whats right for you. Therefore, we offer you a hair loss glossary that includes all medical and cosmetic terminology used on our site as well as some other terms that you might encounter as you learn more about the vast options available.


alopecia: loss of hair, or baldness, that can result from a variety of causes, including heredity, hormonal imbalance, certain diseases, drugs, and certain treatments.

alopecia areata: sudden loss of hair in smooth, circular patches of the scalp, eyebrows, or beard. This disease causes the body to form antibodies against hair follicles. It can result from factors such as stress, genetics, or the immune system.

alopecia totalis: condition that causes total hair loss on the scalp. It may begin as alopecia areata or some other condition.

alopecia universalis: complete loss of scalp hair occurring either all at one time or within a short period. It may begin as alopecia areata or some other condition.

amino acids: compounds that link together to form proteins. A deficiency of amino acids may have an effect on hair growth.

amortization: the process of conversion, such as converting testosterone to dihydrotestosterone.

anagen: the growth phase of the hair cycle during which new hair is formed, which lasts about seven years in a healthy person.

anagen effluvium: loss of hair during the anagen or growing phase. It is commonly associated with chemotherapy or radiation treatment.

androgens: another term for male hormones such as testosterone.

androgenetic alopecia: another term for female pattern baldness, male pattern baldness, hereditary alopecia, and common baldness. This condition results from a genetic predisposition to effects of DHT on the hair follicles.

anterior: front.

antiandrogen: substance that blocks the effects of androgens, normally by blocking the receptor sites.

aromatase: enzyme or enzyme complex involved in the production of estrogen. This substance helps to convert testosterone (an androgen) to estradiol (an estrogen). Aromatase occurs in estrogen-producing cells in the adrenal glands, ovaries, placenta, testicles, adipose (fat) tissue, and brain.

autograft:graft taken from the patient’s own body.

azelaic acid:azelaic acid is commonly used in the treatment of acne and other skin conditions. Recently the potential effects of using azelaic acid in the treatment of androgenetic alopecia have been examined. Azelaic acid inhibits the activity of the enzyme 5 alpha-reductase, involved in the conversion of testosterone to DHT.

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biopsy: tissue removed for examination.

bonding: gluing a hair piece onto the scalp


catagen: transitional stage of the hair cycle between growth and resting.

chemotherapy: chemical treatment, usually of cancers, that frequently causes temporary alopecia universalis.

club hair: hair that has stopped growing or is no longer in the anagen phase. It is anchored to the skin with a club-like root, but will eventually be replaced by a growing hair.

cobblestoning: grafts that have not healed evenly with the skin surface and may leave a bumpy surface. This is commonly found in plug procedures.

combined follicular units: combinations of one or more natural groupings of hair (follicular units) to produce a larger graft to increase recipient density. This structure is commonly used with women and African American patients and in cases with patients who have curly or white hair.

compression: condition that can occur when tissue around hair grafts compresses the follicles. It can lead to poor hair growth and/or hair growing in the wrong direction.

cortex: main structure of the hair shaft responsible for determining the color and texture of the hair. It also accounts for most of the hair’s size and strength.

corticosteroid: drug used to suppress inflammation of tissues and the immune response.

crown: highest portion of skin surface on the head.

cuticle: outer sheaths or surface of hair, consisting of overlapping scales of keratin protein, which gives hair luster and shine and provides some of its strength.


dermal papilla: group of cells at the base of the hair follicle that are important to the growth of a person’s hair throughout life. These cells supply glucose for energy and amino acids to make keratin. This structure is extremely important to hair growth since it has receptors for both androgens and hair-promoting agents.

dermis: sensitive connective tissue layer of the skin located below the epidermis. The dermis contains nerve endings, sweat and sebaceous glands, and blood and lymph vessels.

diazoxide: drug used to treat high blood pressure, and also promotes hair growth.

dihydrotestosterone (DHT): male hormone found to be the main cause for the miniaturization of the hair follicle and the cause of hair loss. The enzyme 5-alpha reductase converts the male hormone testosterone into DHT.

donor site: area where hair-bearing skin is taken for hair transplantation. The area may be either the fringe above the ears or around the back of the head. Hair follicles in both of these areas are genetically programmed to remain intact and grow throughout a person’s life.

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epidermis: outer protective, nonvascular layer of the skin. It covers the dermis.

effluvium: shedding, especially of hair. estrogen: female hormone secreted primarily by the ovaries.


female pattern baldness (FPB): pattern of baldness found in women characterized by a diffuse thinning of hair or hair loss in a rectangular pattern at the front portion of the scalp. It usually develops at a much slower rate than male pattern baldness.

finasteride:one-milligram tablets of finasteride have been marketed under the brand name Propecia ® as a treatment for hair loss. Finasteride is an antiandrogen that blocks the formation of dihydrotestosterone by inhibiting the enzyme 5 alpha-reductase.

5-alpha-reductase: chemical that is responsible for transforming testosterone into dihydrotestosterone.

5-alpha-reductase inhibitors: chemicals that prevent the body from converting testosterone to DHT by blocking the action of the enzyme 5-alpha reductase.

inhibitors: chemicals that prevent the body from converting testosterone to DHT by blocking the action of the enzyme 5-alpha reductase.

follicle: the sheath within which hair grows, a bulb-like structure below the surface of the scalp that houses the root of the hair.

follicular unit: natural groupings or bundles of hair that grow together as a unit in the scalp and share the same blood supply.

follicular unit transplantation: form of hair transplantation where the naturally occurring follicular units are transplanted to balding areas of the scalp.

frontal alopecia: hair loss at the front of the head or scalp.

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gene therapy: technique for the treatment of genetic disease in which a gene that is absent or defective is replaced by a healthy gene.

genetic: tending to occur among members of a family, usually by heredity, such as an inherited disease.

grafting: variety of procedures describing the removal of hair-bearing scalp from the back of the head to a recipient site. The most widely used types of grafting procedures are slit grafting, micrografting and minigrafting (all outdated).

graft: hair removed from one area of the scalp and transplanted to a balding area. Common types of grafts include micrografts, minigrafts, and slit grafts.


hair cloning: procedure that is currently not available. The procedure might make it possible to have an unlimited crop of donor hair for hair transplantation.

hair economics:theory that states that the demand for hair increases as balding increases. It is based upon the premise that only a limited or decreasing supply of hair exists.

hair flap: surgical procedure in which a wide strip of hair-bearing scalp is excised, rotated, and transferred to the frontal area of the scalp to form a hairline.

hair follicle: see follicle.

hair grafting: see grafting.

hair integration: using hair systems or prosthetics to improve the esthetic appearance of the hair.

hair intensification:using hair systems or prosthetics to improve the esthetic thickness of the hair.

hair matrix: area where the formative cells of hair originate, develop, and are contained.

hair multiplication: theoretical procedure (currently not available) for increasing number of hairs through hair cloning.

hair prosthetic: artificial hair replacement device or hairpiece.

hair pull test: diagnostic test for alopecia. To conduct this test, a group of 20–30 hairs are removed from a patient’s head and examined by a doctor.

hair shaft: part of the hair projecting beyond the skin. hair transplant: surgical procedure that transfers hair follicles from a donor area to a recipient area.

hair weaving: attaching a hairpiece to the scalp through braiding or weaving.

hirsutism: disease causing excessive growth of hair of normal or abnormal distribution

inflammatory: pertaining to inflammation. Inflammation is the process whereby the body reacts to injury or abnormal stimulants, typically by pain, swelling, redness, and heat.

infundibulum: the superior, or highest, portion of the hair follicle.

intermediate hairs: hairs which maintain characteristics of both vellus and terminal hairs. They may contain a moderate amount of pigment.

isthmus: middle region of the hair follicle, which usually contains the sebaceous gland.


keratin: tough, insoluble protein substance that is the chief structural constituent of hair and fingernails.

ketoconazole: antifungal agent that has antiandrogenetic properties, the active ingredient in the shampoo Nizoral


L-glutathione: an amino acid important in tissue oxidation and activation of some enzymes.

Lichen planopilaris: disease of the scalp that causes permanent scarring alopecia and inflammation around affected hair follicles.

Ludwig Scale: scale that measures extent of female pattern baldness

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male pattern baldness (MPB): the most common type of hair loss caused by genetic predisposition to lose hair at the front, central, and crown portions of the head. It is usually progressive in nature.

medulla: central zone of cells present only in large, thick hairs.

megasession: transplantation of a large number of hair grafts during one surgical session.

melanin: pigmenting particles that determine hair color within the hair shaft. They may decrease with age, which results in white hair color.

melanocytic: of a specialized cell containing pigment or melanin, which determines hair color.

micrograft: small hair graft consisting of one or two hairs.

midline: area toward the middle of the scalp.

miniaturization: destructive process by which DHT shrinks hair follicles.

minigraft: small hair graft consisting of three to eight follicles.

minoxidil: generic name of the name brand drug Rogaine ®, used topically to retard hair loss and/or encourage hair growth.


Nioxin ®: shampoo that helps to create an optimum scalp environment to encourage natural hair growth.

nonscarring alopecia: broad category of different types of hair loss where the hair follicle remains intact, increasing the likelihood that hair loss may be reversed.

Norwood-Hamilton scale: a scale for the classification of hair loss.


pantothenic acid: the chemical name for vitamin B5. It helps produce full, healthy hair and stronger nails by stimulating vitamin utilization and releasing energy from food. With folic acid, it can help to restore hair's natural color and may aid in preventing hair loss.

papilla: vascular process of connective tissue extending into and nourishing the roots of the hair.

placebo: substance that has no medical effect but is administered as a control in testing of pharmaceuticals.

posterior scalp: back of the head.

Propecia ®: brand name for one-milligram dose of finasteride, used for the prevention and treatment of male pattern baldness.

Proscar ®: FDA-approved finasteride treatment for BPH.

pseudopelade: clinical syndrome that is characterized by slowly progressive scarring alopecia in the absence of other symptoms.It may be the end result of a variety of causes discoid lupus, erythematosus, lichen planus, etc.


recipient area or recipient site: area of the scalp where hair loss occurs and hair will be added in a transplantation procedure.

Retin-A ®: brand name for a topical gel, cream, or solution commonly used in the treatment of acne. It can be effective against hair loss when combined with minoxidil; however, it can cause some scalp irritation.

Rogaine ®: brand name for topical minoxidil solution hair growth used in the treatment of hair loss, now available over the counter


saw palmetto: herb that has been shown to be an effective antiandrogen.

scalp reduction: surgical procedure that removes bald scalp and brings hair-bearing scalp closer together.

scarring alopecia: patchy hair loss with clinical signs of scalp inflammation which may cause permanent hair loss.

scleroderma: disease of the skin and connective tissue that can cause hair loss over the affected areas. sebaceous glands: fatty glands found in hair follicles throughout the body that secrete an oil into the hair and surrounding skin.

seborrheic dermatitis: condition marked by small discolored patches or spots on the skin that frequently occurs on the face and scalp.

sebum: oil secretion produced by sebaceous glands near the follicles, which keeps hair lubricated and gives it shine. selenium: mineral that has been shown to promote hair and scalp health.

senescent alopecia: type of hair loss that naturally occurs with age.

shock fallout or shock loss: condition that occurs when hair transplantation is performed on men or women with a significant amount of their natural hair remaining on the scalp. The procedure itself may induce a telogen phase for much of the hair around the implants. Hair lost due to shock fallout returns in some cases.

slit graft: graft containing multiple hairs inserted into a slit rather than a round opening.

spironolactone: diuretic drug that acts as an antiandrogen, used in the treatment of androgen-related disorders such as female pattern baldness.

staple: surgical fastener (usually U-shaped and metal) used to hold tissue together at the closure of an incision.

stretch back: condition that occurs several months following a scalp reduction procedure due to the elastic characteristics of the skin.

suture: fine thread or other material used surgically to close a wound or join tissues.

system: hair prosthetic or hairpiece and other products and materials for maintenance of a hair prosthetic.


telogen: resting phase of the follicle in the hair cycle.

telogen effluvium: condition that causes an increased number of hairs to enter the telogen, or resting phase of the hair cycle. It may be triggered by such causes as emotional trauma, major illness, major surgery, or other medically related conditions.

telogen hair loss: loss of hair during resting phase.

temporal recession: hair loss in temporal region of the scalp.

terminal hair: larger, heavily pigmented, and usually coarser hairs with a central medulla. It appears on the scalp, face (males), underarms, and pubic areas. testosterone: predominantly male hormone that promotes development of male characteristics.

topical: referring to the surface of the skin. traction alopecia: hair loss that occurs due to traction placed on the hair. It is usually seen with braids, ponytails, and other hairstyles that create traction on the scalp.

transsection: damage to hair follicles that can occur while the donor site is being harvested.


vellus hair: fine “peach fuzz” hair that is not easily visible to the naked eye.

vertex: crown area of the scalp


xylocaine: local anaesthetic used during hair transplantation.


zinc: mineral that can inhibit DHT in the skin, leading to reduction of oil and possibly helping hair regrow.

I hope this hair loss glossary has helped you to understand some of the variety of hair loss terms and meanings to further your quest for viable information. Back to top of Hair Loss Glossary