Circular hair loss is not a dangerous disease. For those affected, however, it is always associated with great psychological stress, since the bald spots usually appear on the head and are easily visible to outsiders.
What is circular hair loss?
Hair loss in the area of the receding hairline is usually the first sign of extensive baldness.
Alopecia areata is the second most common form of hair loss. Young people and children are mostly affected. Statistically, men are more likely to be affected than women. See AbbreviationFinder for abbreviations related to Circular Hair Loss.
The Circlehair lossis not a serious illness, but usually means an extremely high psychological burden for those affected. In around 50 percent of those affected, the bald and mostly circular areas recede within two to three years.
In about ¼ of those affected, however, there is a total loss of all body hair. Circular hair loss often occurs in spurts. Hair loss can occur again and again every three years. Circular hair loss is probably one of the autoimmune diseases.
Circular hair loss is probably one of the autoimmune diseases. Normally, the immune system attacks bacteria or viruses that enter the body. In an autoimmune disease, the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues.
In the case of circular hair loss, the immune system classifies the hair follicles as foreign and attacks them in various places. This immune system reaction can occur in some areas of the hair on the head, but can also affect the entire body hair. Circular hair loss can lead to partial or complete hair loss, which can also affect eyelashes, eyebrows, armpit and pubic hair.
It is assumed that circular hair loss is genetic, since a family-related accumulation of circular hair loss can be observed.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
Circular hair loss is initially characterized by localized hair loss. The hair falls out in foci that are more or less circular. Alopecia areata occurs primarily in young people and has its highest incidence in people between 20 and 40 years of age.
In all those affected, the hair on the head is particularly affected. This can lead to individual hairless areas, or the disease progresses quickly and leads to a total loss of hair. If all head hair is lost, it is called alopecia areata totalis. If all other body hair is also lost, this is referred to as alopecia areata universalis.
In some cases, the hairless patches also recede over time. Spontaneous healing occurs. The hairs on the edge of the dropouts are easier to pull out. The resulting stains can also be announced by so-called exclamation mark hairs. This refers to hair that gets thinner towards the bottom – caused by the attacked hair follicles.
Otherwise there are no physical symptoms. There is no scarring, no scaling and no visible inflammatory reactions. However, circular hair loss can have a significant impact on the psyche of those affected. Women and young people in particular can suffer from the loss of aesthetics.
Diagnosis & History
To confirm the diagnosis of circular hair loss, the medical history (anamnesis) and various clinical examinations are necessary. However, the disease can usually be identified by its typical appearance.
In the case of circular hair loss, there are sharply delimited and bald parts of the body, which often appear on the head. Another typical sign is ivory skin on the bald spots. When taking the medical history, the duration of the symptoms and any accompanying symptoms are of particular importance.
The clinical examination includes an examination of the quality and quantity of the hair. The hairline and hair follicles are also examined. This is done primarily through various laboratory tests using hair and hair follicle samples taken. In addition, the doctor will also examine the scalp. The strength of the hair anchorage can provide further information for the diagnosis of circular hair loss.
Of course, circular hair loss is not a clinical picture, but in most cases a hereditary symptom. In extreme cases, such hair loss begins as early as 30 years of age, so this appearance can also lead to various complications. Affected people often suffer less from the physical symptoms and more from the psychological problems.
Early hair loss is a drastic experience for many people affected. The psychological stress can increase so much that it can even lead to significant depression. However, physical complications can also occur if the affected person uses different hair growth products.
Such hair restorers are very aggressive, which can lead to severe skin irritation on the scalp. At the first irritation or reddening of the skin, the said agent should be discontinued immediately. Otherwise, severe itching can occur, so that an open wound can even develop due to the constant scratching.
An open wound is generally very susceptible to inflammation, which can lead to further complications in this case. The following therefore applies: In the case of circular hair loss, a wide range of complications are possible, which should definitely be treated by a doctor. This is the only way to avoid permanent consequential damage.
When should you go to the doctor?
People who notice signs of patchy hair loss should discuss the condition with a healthcare professional. A visit to the family doctor is particularly recommended for severe hair loss that cannot be traced back to a clear cause. In the case of circular hair loss in one or more places, a medical examination is always advisable. If the symptoms are not limited to the hair, but also affect eyelashes, eyebrows or body hair, a doctor’s appointment is best made in the same week. If symptoms such as burning, itching or pain occur, the hair loss may be due to a serious condition that needs further investigation.
Other non-specific accompanying symptoms should also be clarified by a doctor in any case. Inflammation, bleeding and crusting in the scalp area must be examined and treated with medication, otherwise major complications can occur. Serious infections may need to be treated with antibiotics. If you are suffering from mental problems due to circular hair loss, it is best to seek therapeutic advice at an early stage. Otherwise, the psychological suffering can become entrenched and cause problems in the long term.
Treatment & Therapy
In the case of circular hair loss, no therapy is necessary from a medical point of view in many cases. In half of the cases, the circular hair loss recedes on its own and only extremely rarely does it lead to real health impairments. However, since most of those affected suffer significantly from the symptoms psychologically, a decision must be made on a case-by-case basis as to whether and when treatment is to take place.
If the circular hair loss is only weakly pronounced, treatment is usually not given, because in these cases the symptoms often improve or heal within a few months. To support the healing process, zinc and cortisone-containing solutions or ointments are administered at best. In some cases, local stimulation therapy is also used. Dithranol is used, actually an active ingredient for the treatment of psoriasis.
In severe cases, external immunotherapy is carried out with the help of diphenylcyclopropenone. Sometimes PUVA therapy can also help. This is a treatment using UV-A rays. Unfortunately, there is no therapy to cure the causes of circular hair loss. Any treatment approach is therefore only aimed at eliminating the symptoms that occur. However, none of the possible treatment methods can prevent a recurrence of circular hair loss.
Hair transplantation refers to the transplantation of body hair. Hair transplants are mainly used for hair loss. Click to enlarge.
Outlook & Forecast
In the case of circular hair loss, the prognosis is good. The bald spots will heal on their own after a few weeks to months. Even with protracted courses, healing of the affected areas can be expected. Spontaneous regrowth of hair usually occurs within three years. However, alopecia areata occurs in phases and is repeatedly noticeable through bald spots.
Without medical treatment, a chronic condition can develop, which can also result in psychological problems. Special forms such as alopecia universalis, alopecia totalis and ophiasis offer a worse prognosis. Spontaneous healing of the bald spots is not to be expected with these forms, since there is usually a total loss of head or body hair. If the hairs on the edges of the affected areas pull out easily, the condition is likely to be progressing.
Medical treatment is necessary in any case in order to avoid subsequent physical and mental problems. In addition to the mental consequences such as depressive moods and inferiority complexes, there can be physical symptoms such as itching or redness that need to be treated. Circular hair loss can significantly reduce the quality of life. Life expectancy is usually not affected if alopecia areata is not based on a serious condition.
Since circular hair loss is genetic, there are currently no effective preventive measures. When the symptoms first appear, zinc can be used to try to prevent the hair loss from progressing. However, the opinions of experts differ in this regard. Some doctors are of the opinion that early treatment can hinder the body’s own healing process and that circular hair loss heals better without treatment.
Circular hair loss does not entail any need for follow-up care since it is not a serious condition. Rather, there is an optical problem that can be treated acutely. Scheduled follow-up examinations, such as those carried out after cancer, are intended to prevent a recurrence.
To date, however, no measure is known that could prevent circular hair loss. A dermatologist can therefore only make the diagnosis again and again and, if necessary, prescribe tablets or creams. Complications are not to be expected as a result of circular hair loss. Rapid spontaneous healing leaves no lasting consequences.
However, if bald spots are permanently visible or appear again and again, this can result in psychological suffering. Regular therapy can then be indicated to stabilize the personality. The psychotherapist goes into the everyday problems and discusses how they could be solved.
Whether and when circular hair loss heals cannot yet be determined scientifically. However, this is an essential element for targeted and forward-looking treatment. Children have a greater chance of spontaneous healing than adults. There is no early detection, which is an essential element of aftercare.
You can do that yourself
Various measures and home remedies help with circular hair loss. Depending on the cause, hair loss can often be curbed by changing your lifestyle.
A healthy and balanced diet, for example, strengthens the immune system and can thus also protect against hair loss. We recommend a diet rich in fibre, minerals and vitamins, which can be supplemented with zinc and calcium supplements in consultation with your family doctor. What is also recommended is regular exercise, enough sleep and avoiding stress. In addition to these general measures, there are a number of home remedies that can help. Stinging nettles or fern leaves have proven their worth – both are combed into the hair in the form of an infusion. A hair conditioner made from dried rosemary is just as effective, which is best used daily.
If the above measures are ineffective, we recommend a visit to your family doctor or dermatologist. Circular hair loss may be due to a serious condition that must first be treated. Medical advice is also required for natural causes, because sometimes medication against hair loss helps. In case of doubt, hair loss can be counteracted with the help of a hairpiece or a hair transplant.