Are you aware of the fact that some men can start losing patches of hair on their face? It becomes particularly prominent if you are someone that grows a beard.
The presence of bald patches in the beard can alter your appearance. Curious to know what causes this hair loss on your face and how you can deal with it? Read this article to know what alopecia barbae is and more.
What Is Alopecia Barbae?
Alopecia barbae is a condition that leads to loss of facial hair, forming smooth, hairless patches mostly on the cheeks, jawline, chin or neck. The patches are initially small and usually circular in shape. As the condition progresses, several small patches may join together, creating a bigger and more visible patch.
This condition is a special form of alopecia areata which causes baldness of the beard. This form of alopecia or baldness is due to an autoimmune disorder. Alopecia barbae affects around 2% of men at some point in their life.
Why Do I Have Patches Of Missing Hair On My Face?
While alopecia barbae can be one of the reasons, the bald patches of missing hair on your face may be attributed to any of the following factors given below.
1. Alopecia barbae
Alopecia barbae is an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s own cells attack the hair follicles. This results in sudden onset of hair loss, which is usually localised in the beard.
A lot of factors may be responsible for this condition. It can be genetic in nature, or caused by hormonal imbalance, diet, lifestyle or stress. Certain viruses and medications can act as a trigger too. Alopecia is often associated with comorbidities such as diabetes, eczema, vitiligo, thyroid disorders,etc.
2. Fungal infection
Tinea barbae or ringworm in the beard is a very rare fungal infection, which can cause bald patches in the beard. The bald patches are often accompanied by scaling, redness and pus formation along with broken hair.
It mostly occurs in places with hot and humid climate. Farmers working in the field are common victims of this condition, as they come in contact with the fungi from the environment or from farm animals.
3. Autoimmune disorders
Certain autoimmune or inflammatory disorders such as discoid lupus erythematosus causes permanent destruction of the hair follicles and reduction in facial hair. This condition is known as cicatricial alopecia and may also cause scarring of the affected skin.
Most commonly used to treat cancer, chemotherapy can lead to varying degrees of hair loss all over the body including the beard. Different people react differently to chemotherapy. While some may lose all their hair, others have thinning hair or patches of hair loss.
5. Unhealthy habits
Some unhealthy or compulsive habits may also be responsible for loss of hair from the beard. Traction alopecia is the name given to hair loss, which is caused as a side effect of excessive grooming of the beard. This may even lead to scar formation. Trichotillomania, on the other hand, is a compulsive disorder in which the person unconsciously pulls out his own hair, especially when in stress or anxiety.
How To Treat Bald Patches On The Beard?
If the condition is not too serious, it may heal on its own. But if hair loss from the beard is recurring, you might need medical or cosmetic intervention, depending on your condition.
Some of the common treatment options for alopecia barbae include the following:
Since alopecia barbae is an immune disorder, steroids are often the first drug of choice to reduce inflammation. Steroids are either given as topical ointments to be applied on the affected area or as injections.
Topical application of 2 to 5% minoxidil upto 2 times daily can reduce hairfall and stimulate the hair follicles for hair regrowth. This is an US-FDA approved drug and can take upto 3 months to show visible results.
3. PRP therapy
Injections of PRP or platelet-rich plasma is an effective treatment for hair loss due to alopecia. In this procedure, activated platelets from the patient's own blood are isolated and injected back into the bald patches to stimulate hair regrowth. It might take upto 3 injections spaced over a period of 6 weeks to start seeing new hair and upto a year before full regrowth.
4. UV ray therapy
Phototherapy using UV-B radiations have been found effective in reducing hair loss in some patients, although it is not a very popular method.
5. Home remedies
The effectiveness of home remedies to treat hair loss from the beard have not been proven scientifically. Nevertheless, you can give them a try, as they are not likely to cause any harm. Some common remedies suggested for bald patches on beard include applying the following on the affected area:
- Garlic juice
- Aloe vera
- Castor, coconut or almond oil
- Fish oil
- Essential oils such as lavender, rosemary or geranium
- Cooled green tea
Some people also try acupuncture or aromatherapy as an alternative treatment for hair loss from the beard.
6. Nutritional supplements
You may use zinc or biotin supplements to combat hair fall if you feel that nutritional deficiency could be the reason behind your hair loss. However, do consult a doctor before starting on any nutritional supplements.
How Long Does A Bald Spot Take To Grow Back Hair?
The time taken for hair regrowth in the affected area depends on the severity of the condition. If you have only a few bald patches which are small in size, you may see complete growth in 6 to 12 months. The regrowth may be spontaneous without any treatment. But it is common for bald patches in the beard to return again.
When To See A Doctor About Bald Patches On The Beard?
Your doctor is the best person to judge if the bald patches on your beard should be a reason for health concern or not. The doctor can perform diagnostic tests such as skin biopsy or blood test to determine the exact reason for the hair loss from your beard. Depending on the outcome of the tests, he or she can suggest the best treatment options for you.
Therapies including steroid injections or UV therapy should only be performed by a certified medical professional. Also prolonged fungal infections should be checked by a doctor to avoid future complications.
Bald patches on the beard may be caused due to a number of reasons. It usually does not pose any serious health risks. But it can affect how you feel about yourself. So it is important to know about your hair, and the exact reason behind the hair loss. This in turn will help treat the condition. The extent of hair regrowth and the time taken depends on the underlying reason and severity of the hair loss.
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