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Alopecia Barbae (Beard Hair Loss) – Causes, Treatments And Prevention

alopecia barbae

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    Losing hair can be displeasing and especially when it is from the more prominent areas in the face. There are several kinds of hair loss one among them is alopecia barbae which is a kind of alopecia areata. It occurs when men begin to experience beard hair fall, that is, when your self-esteem lowers and insecurities start to show. Beard hair loss is common in adult years and often causes self-esteem issues in men as a full grown beard is related to masculinity and pride.

    What Is Alopecia Barbae?

    Alopecia Barbae is a type of Alopecia Areata, its full name being Alopecia Areata Barbae. It refers to hair loss that appears in patches on the areas of beard and moustache and affects only facial hair in men. Alopecia Barbae can occur around the cheek, neck, mouth and chin area. The empty patch appears smooth and round and is accompanied by a tingling or burning sensation. It is the most common form of alopecia areata and it affects 2% of males between the ages of 30-40.

    Is Losing Beard Hair Normal?

    Each hair follicle follows its own cycle of growth, resting and falling phase. Therefore, it is normal to lose beard hair. When a particular hair follicle enters its resting phase, it falls out leading to a new hair growth. Due to this natural cycle, it is normal to lose a few strands of hair on a daily basis. If you are experiencing hair loss from your beard in clumps and there is no new hair growth, then it can be a cause of worry and you may be undergoing Alopecia Barbae.

    Must Read: How To Find The Dermatologist For Hair Treatment?

    What Causes Hair To Fall Out Of Beard?

    Any form of alopecia is triggered by intense amount of stress or an autoimmune disease in which the hair follicles are attacked by the immune system. Before you begin to worry about having contracted an incurable disease, here are some other causes for beard hair fall:

    1. Interrupted growth – Sometimes white blood cells make their way to the chin and jaw area causing inflammation and disrupting normal hair growth cycle.
    2. Health condition – There are many illnesses that can trigger excessive beard hair loss. Diseases such as HIV/AIDS, STI, lupus, thyroid disease and rheumatoid arthritis can contribute to facial hair loss. Infection can too affect the hair follicles and lead to inflammation thereby causing Alopecia Barbae.
    3. Hormonal imbalance – Imbalance of testosterone, androgen and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) can lead to beard hair loss. Also if there is large production of estrogen (female hormone), it can hinder facial hair growth.
    4. Genetics – Although genes mainly affect baldness on the scalp, there are instances when genes can lead to loss of beard hair.
    5. Unhealthy lifestyle – Again intake of excessive amounts of alcohol and smoking can alter the hair growth pattern on your face. Smoking can shrink blood vessels and deplete the blood circulation to your face leading to beard hair fall.

    Must Read: Top Causes Of Hair Loss In Men & Women

    What Are The Treatments For Beard Hair Loss?

    If clumps of beard hair are falling out, then you may require medical and cosmetic attention. It can take weeks to months to treat alopecia barbae, and the time frame depends on the severity of hair fall.
    If identified in its earlier stage, then the treatment will take less time to heal Alopecia barbae. Often it heals on its own without the need for any medicine, but it can turn into a recurring problem. Some ways to treat alopecia barbae include –

    1. Minoxidil – Depending on the condition, Minoxidil can be used in either at 2% or 5% concentration. A topical ointment, Minoxidil has been used for many decades as it can help curb hair loss and regenerate new hair follicles leading to hair growth. It is approved by US-FDA for preventing and controlling hair loss and hair thinning.
    2. Steroid cream – A popular medication, it can be taken orally and also applied topically in order to stop the beard hair fall.
    3. Steroid injections – It comes in the form of Corticosteroids. Considered a painful medication, it is highly effective in treating Alopecia Barbae. The treatment is given on a monthly basis spread over a few sessions and it can cause many side-effects as well.
    4. UV ray therapy – A useful and effective method in stopping hair loss, ultra violet light can be used to treat Alopecia. It is not the most popular method, but can be useful in some patients. Phototherapy in the form of UV-B light can help in reducing hair loss.
    5. PRP therapy – Platelet-rich plasma is a natural, safe and effective way of re-growing the lost hair. It extracts blood from the patient’s own body and puts it through centrifuge for extracting activated platelets which are injected back in areas of scanty hair growth. The growth factors stimulate hair follicles through the natural regenerative process of our body, in these bald areas and cause new hair growth.

    Must Read: PRP Vs Other Treatments For Hair Fall – Which Is Better?

    How To Avoid Damaging Your Beard Hair?

    • Wash your beard with gentle, dermatologically recommended shampoo/ soap. Make sure you wash it only 2-3 times a week. Avoid washing it daily as excessive washing can lead to breakage and damage.
    • When it comes to drying your beard, do it gently without tugging or pulling on your beard hair. Use a small cotton towel and lightly squeeze excess water from your beard.
    • Invest in a good quality beard comb or brush. Whilst detangling your beard, remember to start from the ends and slowly work your way to the face. This prevents snagging on a knot and allows your beard hair to remain strong.
    • If you are concerned about maintaining excellent facial hair, then the best way to avoid damage is to use beard oil. Ask your dermatologist to prescribe beard oil that will help strengthen and moisturize your beard.
    • Lose the habit of playing with your beard. It may sound difficult as the main appeal to a beard is to stoke it, but constantly tugging and stroking can weaken your beard hair and lead to Alopecia Barbae.

    Beard hair fall may happen to anyone, though there are no other health conditions related with the occurrence but it causes severe self-esteem issues as it affects the pride. Identify the problem early on and get specialized treatments from a dermatologist to prevent it from severing.


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    About The Author

    Kushneet Kukreja

    Kushneet Kukreja

    A postgraduate in Biotechnology from Kingston University and an ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition, Kushneet Kukreja is a passionate writer who works in close association with the dermatologists at our head office to generate valuable and scientifically accurate content for our blog.

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