The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Facts
According to the American Skin Association, “Alopecia is a general medical term used for all types of hair loss, both localized or diffuse, from the scalp or any part of the body.”
If you’re experiencing excessive hair loss – extra hair on your brush, pillow, or shower drain – and one or more bald spots on your scalp, then you may have the autoimmune disorder called alopecia.
Generally, there are two types of alopecia: scarring (also known as cicatricial) and non-scarring.
This medical condition is often caused by inflammation that destroys the hair follicle, which can lead to irreversible hair loss. This is why people with this autoimmune disorder may see
bad patches on their scalp. Once the underlying tissues in and around the follicle is permanently damaged or scarred, these will be replaced with fibrous tissues.
Also known as cicatricial alopecia, scarring alopecia can happen slowly over a few years or quickly in a matter of months. This relatively rare disorder may not show symptoms, which is why it can go unnoticed for months.
This medical condition can happen to anyone. Luckily, it is not contagious and may not necessarily be passed on through your genes.
Causes and symptoms of scarring alopecia
While most types of alopecia are caused by the permanent destruction of hair follicles caused by inflammation. However, the causes of scarring alopecia are not fully understood yet.
Experts believe that the main cause of cicatricial alopecia is the destruction of slow-cycling hair follicle stem cells, which are located in the bulge region of the hair follicle in the outer root sheath. It is also thought that there may be more biological pathways that cause this condition, since it also shows other symptoms, such as follicular plugging, epidermal atrophy, and erythema.
Another theory that a lot of experts think is the cause of scarring alopecia is the involvement of proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR), which is responsible for maintaining the integrity of hair follicle cells. When the PPAR gamma becomes dysfunctional, it can lead to a build-up of toxic lipids, increasing inflammation triggers, which eventually destroy the hair follicles.
Typical symptoms of alopecia include the following:
Burning sensation of the scalp
Patches of scaly and rough skin on the scalp
Pus or discharge from the scalp