The term alopecia might be known to a lot of people, but not all of them would know what exactly it refers to and how it can affect a person’s life. Alopecia is the loss of hair and there are various categories, which could range from temporary loss to complete loss of hair, from all over the body. While alopecia areata and alopecia universalis are the more heard versions, there is also an entity calledcicatricial or scarring alopecia.
What is cicatricial alopecia?
Also known as scarring alopecia, cicatricial alopecia is a rare condition that destroys the follicles of the hair and all the associated oil glands, or sebaceous glands, and this leads to permanent loss of hair. This condition is seen more often in women, but cases have been reported in both sexes. Thehair loss is said to be instigated due to the inflammation caused in the upper part of the hair follicles. This is where the stem cells as well as the oil glands are, and when these are destroyed, there is next to no chance of the hair re-growing. While the condition is not contagious, it can affect anyone, man, woman and child.
Symptoms of Scarring alopecia
Hair loss can occur in a gradual completely asymptomatic manner or might be immediate and accompanied by burning sensation and pain. People may also complain of itching and scaling in some cases with presence of certain raised lesions.
There are several other factors that a doctor will enquire to make the correct diagnosis and these include:
• Onset and rate of progression
• Symptoms such as pain, burning sensation and itching
• Previous treatments, medical history and medications
• Family history of similar condition
Doctors examine such cases with a special instrument called dermatoscope to visualise the hair follicle openings and skin texture. Also a scalp biopsy is recommended to identify the exact cause of such alopecia. The biopsy has to be conducted on an area where the inflammation is still present. Even a hair pull test would be helpful in such a situation, especially to decipher where to biopsy.
A doctor might also look at pustules that might be present and use those to locate as well as identify the microbes that might prove to be contributing factors for the condition. It is important that each stage is photographed, as this assists in comparison, post treatment.
Once the cause is identified they are treated with medicines accordingly. This prevents further progression of the condition and associated hair loss. In the areas where hair follicles are already destroyed, the best option is to opt for a trial hair transplant. It is important to visit a doctor and discuss about the management options best suited to your condition.