How is it diagnosed? This third blog post in a series on cicatricial alopecia continues with new learnings regarding associations with other illnesses, diagnosis, and seeking treatment. Much of the information provided is from the Cicatricial Alopecia Research Foundation or CARF. Their website is www.carfintl.org, and I encourage everyone seeking more in-depth knowledge to visit the site.
What is it? Although the cause of hair loss varies patient to patient, I see many patients in my practice who have been suffering from hair loss, sometimes severe, for many years before ever talking to a hair loss physician. Because of this, I wanted to highlight a group of disorders that I frequently diagnose - cicatricial alopecias - which are a very misunderstood family of complications that can masquerade as androgenic alopecia.
Hair loss disorders are a large, heterogeneous group of conditions that have various clinical features, pathological findings, and etiologies. Hair loss may occur due to disorders of hair cycling, inflammatory conditions that damage hair follicles, or inherited or acquired abnormalities in hair shafts.
Our scalp contains about 100,000 to 150,000 hair follicles. Once these are formed in our development, they undergo a lifelong cycling characterized by periods of growth (anagen phase), transformation (catagen phase), and rest (telogen phase). Unlike man’s best friend, human hair cycling is not synchronous, meaning that individual follicles cycle independently, and thus we do not have mass shedding of hair.
As scalp and hair physicians, we are always looking for more proven ways to help the thousands of women suffering from FPHL (Female Pattern Hair Loss) and know using multiple medical therapies at once can create a synergism, which cannot be achieved by any one treatment alone. What sets our course of treatment apart from purchasing advertised “hair growth” fad products or gimmicks is the medical research performed to support the hair loss treatments we prescribe for FPHL.