Total Hair Loss - Hair Loss & Hair Transplant Surgery Guide

This occurs when all of the hair on the scalp, or the scalp and body is lost. There are a number of different causes.


As mentioned in the earlier section on patchy hair loss, the condition alopecia areata can progress to alopecia totalis is where all the hair on the scalp is lost and alopecia universalis where there is no hair on either the scalp or the body. This occurs in 10-20% of cases of alopecia areata.

Another condition, known as telogen effluvium, occurs when the body responds to a physical or hormonal stress. This stress triggers the majority of hairs to move into the resting phase of the hair cycle, and so 2-3 months after the stressful event, all of the hairs fall out at once. Sudden illness, pregnancy, crash dieting or sudden weight loss and surgery are just some of the events that can cause this condition.

Treatment with certain chemotherapy drugs can lead to a condition called anagen effluvium. The drugs affect the hair follicles and prevent hair growth leading to a widespread hair loss.


Alopecia totalis and alopecia universalis cannot be cured but certain treatments are available to improve the condition. These include topical steroid creams and steroid injections, wigs and hairpieces, tattooing for the eyebrow area, UV light therapy, and immunotherapy. The appropriateness of these treatments depends on the individual patient, as each case will respond differently to the different treatment options.

Telogen effluvium does not tend to require treatment, as hair grows back normally once the body regains its normal cycle.

Anagen effluvium improves once the chemotherapy treatment is finished. Patients undergoing chemotherapy are offered free wigs and hairpieces through the NHS. However, some types of chemotherapy treatment will lead to hot flushes and other symptoms that may make wigs very uncomfortable to wear.