Patchy beard (Alopecia Barbae)

It is a specific form of Alopecia areata which usually affects beard. It is a autoimmune disease which affects hair follicles. The exact cause of alopecia areata is unknown, but it seems to be caused by the immune system attacking the hair follicles by mistake. It’s a sudden onset of losing  beard hair in small circular patches, often seen along jawline. It can be isolated to the beard or sometimes it may even occur in scalp or face. Exact cause is not known, but psychological and physical stress are linked to it. Increased risk in case of family history of autoimmune diseases. Some medications and viruses can trigger the condition.  Itching and pain can be felt at the area of hair loss.

Blood test and scalp biopsy may be needed to diagnose the signs of infection or the underlying cause. But most of the time based on the way it looks and the pattern of hair loss, dermatologist will diagnose it. Other tests to rule out fungal infections and thyroid disorders are advised.

There is no cure for Alopecia Barbae, but the symptoms can be controlled. People with mild early alopecia areata may need no treatment, as their hair is likely to come back anyway without it. With treatment hair may grow back, but there is no guarantee that it won’t fall again. Treatment always depends on the age, hair loss you have and the underlying condition. If there is very extensive hair loss from the start, the chances of it regrowing are not as good. Any treatments that carry serious risks should be avoided, as alopecia barbae itself has no adverse effect on physical health.

Some other options are:

» Topical steroid creams or ointments
» Steroid injections into the bald patches
» Contact sensitizers, such as squaric acid or DPCP(Diphencyprone)
» Other topical medications, like anthralin or minoxidil



Dr. Y. Alekhya


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