Also known as cicatricial alopecia, scarring alopecia can affect men and women of all ages. The diagnosis of the condition is possible in up to 3% of the patients. Though rare, some examples of scarring alopecia are (to name a few):
The occurrence of scarring alopecia may point to a bigger condition such as lupus erythematosus. This may even affect some of the organs of the body. Where there are many types of scarring alopecia, the condition commonly ends in irreversible follicular destruction and permanent hair loss.
What causes scarring alopecia?
Cicatricial alopecia is a very poorly understood condition. Yet, all types of scarring alopecia display inflammation of the hair follicle.
The most common cause of scarring alopecia is attributed to the breakdown of the ‘master regulator’ called PPAR gamma or peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma. The primary function of this regulator is the preservation of the hair follicles, sebaceous glands, and stem cells. Research indicates that when the PPAR gamma is decreased, then it leads to loss of sebaceous glands’ functions, which in turn results in the secretion of toxic lipids. Inflammation is triggered due to its accumulation, which eventually destroys the follicular activity.
Symptoms of scarring alopecia
Though different types of scarring alopecia may have slightly different symptoms, the most common ones noticed are itching, pain, tenderness, burning, inflammation, and changes in the appearance of the scalp. To diagnose cicatricial alopecia, it is absolutely essential to conduct a clinical evaluation and in most cases, a scalp biopsy may have to be obtained.
Treatment for scarring alopecia
The treatment of scarring alopecia depends upon the extent of the condition, its severity and particularly the cause. Some treatment modalities are: