This section is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what can cause hair loss, but other than androgenetic alopecia, most forms of alopecia affect relatively few people in the general population. Probably the most common non-AGA alopecias a dermatologist will see are telogen effluvium, alopecia areata, ringworm, scarring alopecia, and hair loss due to cosmetic over-processing. The average non-hair specialist dermatologist may never see any of the other hair loss conditions in his or her clinic during their entire career! However, this can create a problem for those who do have a rare form of alopecia. It may be hard to get a proper diagnosis if the dermatologist they consult with has no experience with their condition. For some people with rare hair loss conditions, a correct diagnosis may take months, sometimes even years, and consultation with numerous dermatologists until one is found with knowledge of their condition. Plus, with rare diseases there is little motivation for research to be conducted and for treatments to be developed. Often, even when a correct diagnosis is made, there is no known treatment for the condition that a dermatologist can offer the individual.
Research into hair biology and hair diseases is a very small field, even research on androgenetic alopecia is quite limited. However, recent years have seen a growing interest among clinicians and scientists to work on these problems to understand their mechanisms and to develop new treatments. Perhaps 20 years ago there were less than 100 people worldwide who studied hair research in a big way. Now (2004), there are perhaps 500. Still a very small number compared to, say, diabetes research, but the expansion in numbers doing research on hair biology is "a good thing" and eventually it should lead to a better understanding and more help for those with rare alopecias.