When it comes to forms of alopecia, some are more devastating than others. One of the least devastating—unless you are a fan of growing thick, full beards—is alopecia barbae. Alopecia barbae doesn’t have any correlations to outside health problems or issues like other forms of alopecia. It doesn’t disfigure your scalp like scarring alopecia. It isn’t an obvious hair loss like complete baldness caused by alopecia totalis. It’s simply having a patchy beard or spots in your beard which won’t grow in.
What is the Deal with Alopecia Barbae?
Now of course, this can be devastating to the man who just wants to grow a beard and move to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, but compared to other forms of permanent hair loss and scarring — even death from complications due to secondary diseases associated with alopecia mucinosa —t his one isn’t really that bad. All you have to do is shave and nobody will notice the difference.
Alopecia barbae comes and goes for most men. It doesn’t mean that you will experience any other type of hair loss — be it alopecia or male pattern baldness — but it doesn’t mean you won’t. The two really aren’t tied together other than by name. Fortunately for you beard aficionados, alopecia barbae is rare.
Still, the news isn’t all rosy as 2% of men with alopecia barbae will experience alopecia areata where sporadic hair loss can occur. This can be frustrating if you are trying to grow a beard. Even so, 2% of a rare disorder is extremely rare.
What Causes Alopecia Barbae?
While the overall cause for any form of alopecia is unknown, the same cause is suspected across the boards, even with alopecia barbae. That cause is an autoimmune condition that causes the immune system to get confused and attack healthy tissue in the body. It does this because it thinks that it is protecting the body from attack. In alopecia, the autoimmune attacks are directed at hair follicles, where they become inflamed and damaged.
This can lead to almost immediate hair loss or gradual hair loss depending on the extent of the autoimmune attack and type of alopecia. For alopecia barbae, the hair follicles on your face — specifically your beard—are attacked and the hair falls out. In some cases, this might be accompanied by a burning sensation, but in most, it is painless. The hair just comes out as you run your fingers through your beard — or it doesn’t grow in when you are trying to grow one.
This autoimmune deficiency is thought to be hereditary, meaning it is passed down through genes. While you might carry the alopecia barbae gene, it doesn’t mean you’ll develop it. It’s thought that outside triggers from the environment cause the alopecia barbae to appear. When this happens, our bodies produce antibodies which collect up into your hair follicle and cells, causing it to become inflamed and stop producing hair. Some environmental triggers might include stress, depression and anxiety.
How Do I Treat Alopecia Barbae?
There are a number of treatment methods for alopecia barbae, some medicinal, some natural. Some people simply wait for the autoimmune attack to stop and the hair to spontaneously regrow (this doesn’t always happen, but it does happen). The best method for treatment is early detection. If you see a patch of your beard not growing in, visit a dermatologist to get diagnosed or have your fears put at ease. The sooner you get to the treatment, the better and easier the outcome is going to be for you and your beard.
Medication for Alopecia Barbae Treatment: In most cases, a doctor will prescribe minoxidil for your alopecia barbae. This liquid is rubbed onto the patches of hairless beard twice a day. This helps to regrow your hair at the same time it protects your hair follicles from losing more hair. Alternatively, a cream or ointment called anthralin can be used. This tar-based substance is applied to the patches once a day and then removed after thirty to sixty minutes. When you stop using anthralin, hair growth stops as well. Finally, corticosteroids can be used, either injected into the affected areas by a dermatologist or given orally for more advanced cases of alopecia barbae.
Natural Remedies for Alopecia Barbae: Other people prefer to go the natural method, opting for holistic treatments for hair loss. By combining thyme, rosemary, cedarwood oil, lavender and jojoba or grape seed oil, you can effectively combat alopecia barbae. This is preferred for some because it won’t irritate the skin like some medications can (especially shots or topical creams and ointments). Just be certain that you aren’t allergic to any of the above ingredients. One popular study cites that within six weeks, 87% of users saw hair regrowth.
At Q Esthetics, we use laser hair loss treatment in conjunction with other techs effectively treat a wide variety of alopecia. To find out more about alopecia barbae including the latest treatment techniques that pharmaceutical companies don’t want you to know about, please continue to visit other pages of our web site.