Cicatricial alopecia, sometimes referred to as scarring alopecia, is a condition that can cause hair loss. It is not a common condition, but it is one that can cause frustration and fear. Those who suffer from this form of alopecia experience damage to the hair follicles, which are the thin shafts from which hair grows. Damage to these shafts causes hair loss. In most cases, this type of scarring leads to permanent hair loss. If you are experiencing hair loss that is unexpected or may be unexplained due to medication or hormone changes, you may wish to speak to your doctor or a dermatologist about the hair loss so a formal diagnosis of cicatricial hair loss can be made.
What Causes Cicatricial Hair Loss?
Cicatricial alopecia is typically brought on by inflammation of the scalp. The inflammation causes damage to the hair follicle, leading to hair loss. There are many ways this type of inflammation can occur. For example, an infection of the scalp can cause it. It may also be brought on by a serious burn or irritation that develops on the scalp.
This condition can impact both men and women. It is not as commonly occurring in children. The actual cause of it is not fully understood, but it is believed that the inflammation causes damage to the oil glands and the stem cells in the hair follicle. When this occurs, it creates scarring, which is also known as fibrosis.
Most of the time, this type of hair loss is not related to genetics. That means if your family member has it, that does not mean you will develop it. Rather, it is more common for the condition to occur after some type of damage to the scalp.
Types of Cicatricial Scarring
There are two types of conditions that can occur. Primary scarring alopecia causes irreversible damage to the follicles in which fibrous tissue develops. This may be neutrophilic cicatricial alopecia, which is most common in young males and adults. The second form is lymphocytic alopecia, in which lymphocytes cause the condition.
Secondary scarring alopecia is brought on by damage from inflammation or destruction of the skin, such as from cancer, trauma, radiation, or burns.
Symptoms of Scarring Hair Loss
If you believe you may have this condition, seeking help from your doctor is critical. The sooner you do so, the more likely you are to avoid the damage caused by fibrosis. It may be possible for doctors to provide medications or treatment for the inflammation early on, which may prevent the condition from worsening and leading to permanent hair loss.
The symptoms of this condition can vary significantly. They may include:
- Reddening of the skin in the impacted area
- Scaling or pustule development
- Patches of rough skin
One key concern is that this condition can develop slowly over time, making it hard to spot any type of symptoms early on. Some people may have symptoms of it occurring within a few months. Other times it can take place over a period of years.
What Are Some Treatment Options for Cicatricial Hair Loss?
There are steps your doctor can take to provide treatment to the inflammation. Whenever there is inflammation in the body, resolving it can prove to be critical. Perhaps the most important step is proper diagnosis. The sooner that occurs, the more likely it is for you to have available treatments.
This may be done through a biopsy of the impacted area. Doctors can then examine the tissue to look for any signs of inflammation. This can also provide more information about how severe the inflammation is and the available treatments for it.
In some situations, systemic treatment may be beneficial. This may include oral or biologic treatments. A topical treatment may help in other cases. In serious cases, your doctor may use anti-inflammatory injections into the impacted area. There could be new treatments and clinical trials available to help you as well.
If you are unsure what may be behind your hair loss, take the time now to set up an appointment at Unique Hair Concepts to discuss your health needs with your doctor or a dermatologist. You may find treatment options available to you.