The latest hairstyles and hair colors can seem exceptional in photographs splashed across magazines covers, and the internet, but creating these looks requires exposure of hair to heated styling devices and harsh chemicals that, in turn, can severely damage hair. Notably damaged hair can be suggestive of a disease, or a hair-shaft disorder, a condition our medical practice can diagnose and provide an individual treatment protocol for hair restoration.
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.