Growing out a beard can be challenging. Yet, what makes it even more challenging is if you start noticing odd patches of hair falling out. That could be a sign of a more severe complication known as alopecia barbae.
Wondering what causes alopecia barbae? There are numerous root causes of this disease. It could stem from genetic disorders and autoimmune complications. Nevertheless, the best method to find out the causes of alopecia barbae is by understanding its diagnosis.
If you’re interested in knowing more about the causes, symptoms, and treatments for alopecia barbae, keep reading.
Identifying Alopecia Barbae
Before getting into the causes of alopecia barbae, you might want to first get a proper diagnosis. Alopecia can often be mistaken for hair loss due to ingesting certain medications.
To identify this disorder, your doctor will take a sample of your beard hair. By observing them under a microscope, they can spot the leading cause of your condition.
You may also have to go through a blood test or biopsy to weed out any signs of autoimmune diseases or fungal infections that could be causing your hair loss.
5 Possible Causes of Alopecia Barbae
Your main concern would probably be why you have alopecia barbae in the first place. Unfortunately, specialists haven’t yet been able to pinpoint the cause of the condition.
Having said that, there are some well-known attributes that could be the culprit. So, we narrowed it down to five possible causes.
If you have an autoimmune disease such as psoriasis, lupus, vitiligo, eczema, or type 1 diabetes, you’re at a higher risk for alopecia barbae. Thyroid diseases may also make you more susceptible to alopecia barbae.
How does this work? Well, your body naturally has a defense system against any harmful bacteria or germs invading your healthy cells. Autoimmune disease is when your body turns on itself and starts attacking instead of focusing on outside invaders.
Scientists and health specialists are still unable to understand what causes immune cells to act this way. Although, some studies point to microorganisms and bacteria that breach your immune system and reprogram them.
In this case, they might be attacking your beard’s hair follicle cells. You’ll notice your beard patchy and thinning out on your jawline, upper lip, or cheek area.
Ringworm is a fungal infection that you might’ve contracted from a pet. You may also have come in contact with an infected surface, more common in humid areas.
Once infected, the symptoms of alopecia barbae can develop in around a couple of weeks. To get a quick diagnosis, a visit to the dermatologist will do the trick.
The good news is it’s easily treated. However, it’s best to avoid sharing any personal items with anyone during this time since it’s easily transmissible.
Like autoimmune diseases, genes play a huge factor when it comes to alopecia barbae. If your relatives have autoimmune diseases like lupus, type 1 diabetes, psoriasis, asthma, or eczema, you’re more vulnerable to getting alopecia barbae.
Cancer treatment may cause you to develop alopecia barbae as a condition known as Chemotherapy-Induced Alopecia (CIA).
Chemotherapy can affect patients differently. If you notice your beard hair becoming patchy, it could be due to the dosage of and mixture of medications you’re prescribed.
This is not to say that everyone receiving chemotherapy goes through alopecia. The drugs taken have varied reactions to every person. Some may lose more hair than others; some none at all.
There’s an undeniable link between your mental and physical health. Studies have reiterated the connection between high blood pressure, heart diseases, and diabetes to life’s mental stresses.
Hair loss is no stranger to stress. Your hair can even turn gray due to high levels of stress. You need to consider your mind and body as one and treat them both equally well.
In addition, stress can lead to nervous habits such as pulling at your hair. It’s otherwise known as beard trichotillomania. It can be caused by hormonal changes as well.
Other Causes to Consider
There are other less likely causes of alopecia barbae, but might still be worth the mention. For example, one could be a vitamin D deficiency.
It could also be due to a more simple cause as razor bumps. This is especially true if you have curly facial hair. The hair grows, and when it curls, it can find its way back into the skin, creating more skin damage resulting in hair loss.
Another cause can be a hereditary hair loss disorder known as hypotrichosis. Yet, symptoms of this disorder usually appear during early childhood.
What are the Symptoms of Alopecia Barbae?
The initial symptom you’ll notice is the hair thinning in certain parts around your beard. They can range from small coin-sized patches to finger-sized chunks.
Before the hair loss, you might feel an itching sensation over the affected areas. You might also see exclamation mark hairs typically found around the bald area. These hairs have smaller roots and tend to break off easily.
How Can You Treat Alopecia Barbae?
Thanks to modern medicine, there are plenty of treatment methods for alopecia barbae. Nevertheless, it’s crucial to understand that you can’t be fully rid of the condition since there’s no cure. Nonetheless, with the proper treatment, you can keep the symptoms at bay.
Before choosing your treatment, you should first understand the severity of your case. If your alopecia barbae is in the initial stages, you have a better chance of the treatment being more effective. It also depends on your age, hormones, and a few other factors.
Let’s take a look at some of the medications and treatments you can expect to use with the proper prescription from your dermatologist.
- Diphencyprone: triggers your immune system and reroutes white blood cells away from the affected follicles.
- Hair Peptide Therapy: boosts protein growth and reduces inflammation
- Corticosteroids: one of the most common medications for alopecia barbae. They reduce the effects of your compromised immune system and inhibit inflammation
- Anthralin: This treatment causes inflammation in the area to stimulate hair growth. Fair warning, it can cause scaling
- Minoxidil: This medication attempts to activate growth levels of hair follicles
What causes alopecia barbae? We can’t say for certain since the professionals aren’t sure themselves. However, the most common causes are linked to genetics and autoimmune diseases.
After identifying your symptoms and getting a proper diagnosis, your dermatologist will prescribe certain medications to alleviate symptoms. Yet, they won’t be able to cure it completely.
Eating well and easing your mental stress levels can also help. In other words, a well-balanced lifestyle can go a long way in helping maintain and treat your condition.
Check out our article “These 9 Vitamins Are Perfect For Beard Growth!” to get an idea of the best foods for a thick, healthy beard.