Patchy hair loss in the beard is called alopecia barbae. Alopecia barbae is an autoimmune disorder where the immune system misidentifies healthy hair cells and starts attacking them, leading to damage. Hair loss occurs in small circular patches along the beard, although sometimes it can affect the hairline or other parts of the body.
What causes bald spots in the beard?
Although the exact cause of alopecia barbae is unknown, studies have shown the following causes to be associated with increased risk of developing the disease.
- Autoimmune disorders: This includes diseases such as type I diabetes mellitus, psoriasis, and lupus. As the immune cells are already dysfunctional in these cases, it can increase risk of autoimmune hair loss.
- Genetic history: Having a positive family history of autoimmune conditions can put you at greater risk of developing alopecia barbae.
- Increased stress: Studies have shown that both physical and psychological stress can lead to hair loss.
What are associated symptoms of alopecia barbae?
The most obvious symptom is a sudden patchy loss of hair in the beard or along with the beard. Sometimes, the patchy hair loss extends to the hairline as well.
Hair loss takes place over the course of a few days to weeks. Skin around the bald patches may appear white and have mild itching Sometimes, the skin may also have signs of inflammation, such as redness, pain, or roughness.
How is alopecia barbae diagnosed?
Your doctor will examine you and confirm a diagnosis after conducting certain blood tests and skin scrapings.
- A dermatologist will note and mark the involvement of the skin and pattern of hair loss from the beard.
- Blood tests may be ordered to rule out conditions such as diabetes mellitus, thyroid imbalances, and anti-lupus antibodies.
- A scalp or skin biopsy may be done to check for fungal infections.
- Hair samples can be taken from the affected area for examination.
How can bald spots in the beard be treated?
There is no specific treatment option for alopecia barbae. Treatment aims to limit activity of the immune cells in order to reduce damage to hair cells. The immune process responsible for hair loss can be halted so that new hair grows.
Medications commonly prescribed include:
- Corticosteroids: Help reduce the activity of the immune system, limiting hair damage and loss.
- Rogaine (minoxidil): Works as a vasodilator by increasing hair follicle size and growth rate when applied topically over the affected area 2 times a day for at least 3 months.
- Diphencyprone: Causes a localized allergic reaction that induces redness, swelling, and itching. This is thought to trick the immune system to send white blood cells to the surface of the skin to reduce inflammation and keep the hair follicles active, preventing hair loss.
- Anthralin: Applied topically to the affected area to promote new cell generation. It causes slight skin irritation.
American Academy of Dermatology. Hair Loss Types: Alopecia Areata Diagnosis and Treatment. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/hair-loss/types/alopecia/treatment
Pototschnig H, Madl MT. Successful Treatment of Alopecia Areata Barbae with Platelet-rich Plasma. Cureus. 2020;12(4):e7495. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7193229/
Messenger AG. Patient education: Alopecia areata (Beyond the Basics). UpToDate. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/alopecia-areata-beyond-the-basics/print
Top How Do I Fix Bald Spots in My Beard Related Articles
Effective Ways to Stop Hair Loss in MenHair loss is one of the common problems in men. There could be many causes of hair loss that include diet, mineral deficiency, medications, stress, pollution, and genetics.
Alopecia Areata (Head, Beard) PictureA common hair loss condition, alopecia areata, usually starts as a single quarter-sized circle of perfectly smooth baldness. See a picture of Alopecia Areata and learn more about the health topic.
Conditions That Can Cause Body Hair LossSome kinds of body hair loss -- or extra growth -- can be a sign of another health condition. Find out what yours might mean.
finasterideFinasteride tablets is a drug used to treat male pattern baldness. The most common side effects associated with finasteride are breast enlargement, decreased libido, erectile dysfunction, and ejaculation disorders. Serious side effects include increased risk of high-grade prostate cancer, and increased risk for male breast cancer. Finasteride should not be used or handled by pregnant females.
Hair LossThere are many causes of scalp hair loss. This featured article covers the common ones such as patchy hair loss (alopecia areata, trichotillomania, and tinea capitis), telogen effluvium, and androgenetic alopecia (male-pattern baldness, female-pattern baldness).
Hair Loss: Alopecia, Thinning Hair in Men and WomenLearn about hair loss (alopecia) in women and men. Discover hair loss causes and treatments like shampoos and drugs, as well as how to prevent hair loss.
Hair Loss QuizTrue or false: Genetic hair loss comes from the mother's side of the family. Take the Hair Loss Quiz to learn about your hair. Learn what damages hair and what doesn't. Take the quiz!
Alopecia Areata: How Is It Treated and Can It Be Cured?Many people experience an autoimmune disorder of the skin that causes hair loss on the scalp, face, and other areas of the body. Learn what medical treatments can help ease your alopecia areata symptoms and help you manage this condition.
Men's Hair Loss: Treatments and SolutionsReceding hairlines, thinning, bald spots -- learn to prevent further hair loss and make the most of what you've got. WebMD shows you solutions from hair products to surgery."
minoxidil topicalMinoxidil topical is an over-the-counter medication locally applied on the scalp to treat male or female pattern hair loss (androgenetic alopecia). Use with caution in patients with heart disease. Common side effects of minoxidil topical include excessive hair growth (hypertrichosis), exacerbation of hair loss, redness (erythema) at the application site, local erythema, burning, irritation, allergic contact dermatitis, eczema, swelling (edema), tendon inflammation (tendinitis), back pain, fractures, systemic effect of low blood pressure (hypotension), dizziness, lightheadedness, feeling faint, anxiety, sinus inflammation (sinusitis), and respiratory infections. Avoid use if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
What Are the Different Autoimmune Disorders?An autoimmune disorder occurs when a person’s immune system mistakenly attacks their own body tissues such as the skin or joints considering them as foreign.