It’s never easy to realize you’re losing a larger-than-normal amount of hair, but some types of hair loss can be particularly alarming or upsetting. Cicatricial(scarring) alopecia is one of these.
Cicatricial alopecia occurs when a medical condition or injury causes the permanent destruction of hair follicles, leading to bald patches on the scalp and elsewhere on the body. If you have been diagnosed with cicatricial alopecia (or suspect you may have it), don’t panic. There may be treatments available to slow or stop hair loss, or to replace hair lost to this condition.
What Does Cicatricial Alopecia Look Like?
Scarring alopecia causes one or more smooth, shiny bald patches on the scalp or other places on the body where hair usually grows. These patches may expand in size and overlap. Depending on the cause and severity of the disorder, patchy balding may be accompanied by redness, blisters, or flaking skin.
What Is the Cause of Cicatricial Alopecia?
Cicatricial alopecia often results from inflammatory or autoimmune issues. These disorders cause inflammation in the part of the hair follicle that contains the oil glands and stem cells responsible for hair growth. Inflammation damages the follicle, causes scar tissue to form, and prevents new hair growth. It is commonly thought that cicatricial alopecia can be triggered by stress or trauma.
Other causes of scarring alopecia are bacterial infections, burns, chemical exposure, skin injuries, or radiation treatments for cancer, tumors, and neurological disorders. When the openings in the skin where the follicles are located are injured, they can close completely and leave behind scar tissue.
How Is Cicatricial Alopecia Treated?
While scarring alopecia cannot be cured, in many cases it can be treated with 6-to-12-month courses of oral, injected, or topical anti-inflammatory medications. These help patients manage their symptoms, and often slow or stop the progression of hair loss.
In the case of cicatricial alopecia caused by a bacterial infection, antibiotics will be prescribed. In most types of scarring alopecia, complementary cosmetic procedures like platelet-rich plasma therapy may reduce the size – and improve the appearance – of bald or thinning patches.
If conservative therapies are not adequate to regrow hair, transplantation can relocate active follicles from a healthy area of the scalp to an impacted area. This may be a good option for those whose case has been stable for several years.
Can Hair Grow Back After Cicatricial Alopecia?
If cicatricial alopecia is treated in its earliest stages, you may be able to regrow some or all your lost hair. Once the follicle is destroyed, no additional hair will occur naturally in the scarred area. At that point, surgical hair replacement may be an option to fill in bare patches on your scalp.
HairMD: Guiding You on Your Hair Replacement Journey
Cicatricial alopecia can be a difficult condition to navigate, but we are here to answer any questions you have and to guide you on your hair replacement journey. Our experts at HairMD have performed thousands of successful hair transplants, including ARTAS® robotic-assisted procedures, delivering natural-looking results with minimal downtime. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.