Question: I am a young man in my 30’s, and I have started losing the hair on my head in round patches. My uncle has alopecia areata (like Mr. Clean) and went totally bald. Is there hope for my hair loss?
Answer from Dr. Larry Shapiro, Hair Transplant Doctor: There is always hope for hair loss. But without seeing you in my office, I can provide only the most general information.
You seem to be experiencing spot baldness. And you need to see your doctor or dermatologist right away.
Research shows that the sooner the causes of hair loss are identified and treated, the better the outcome. Self- diagnosis is not recommended because there are many causes of hair loss.
It is true that alopecia areata seems to run in families, but only in a small percentage of cases. On the other hand, every case of hair loss should be checked out by a doctor.
Spot baldness in men can be caused by several reasons, including but not limited to: alopecia areata, a fungal infection, and traction (hair styles that pull).
Alopecia areata is an auto-immune disorder, typically caused by T-cell lymphocytes. It can indicate more serious problems, and therefore, specific blood tests may be needed. A simple biopsy of the scalp may also be necessary for a proper diagnosis.
Treatment for alopecia areata can include an injection of a mild steroid solution.
A hair transplant involves transplanting hair follicles from one part of the scalp to the balding areas. However, a hair transplant is not an effective treatment for alopecia areata because the transplanted hair would be attacked by the T-lymphocytes, and fall out. If a hair transplant surgeon offers someone like you (with spot baldness) a hair transplant and doesn’t rule out alopecia areata first, run away.
When a patient with spot baldness comes to one of my hair transplant clinics in Florida, we usually order a biopsy before deciding if a hair transplant will be helpful.
The complete loss of scalp hair due to an immune disorder is called alopecia totalis. If all the body hair starts falling out, we call it alopecia universalis. You should seek a true diagnosis immediately, before your condition gets worse.
Best of luck.
Dr. Larry Shapiro
Dr. Shapiro is a hair transplantation specialist and dermatologist with hair transplant clinics in the Miami, Boca Raton and Ft. Lauderdale areas of central Florida.