Scleroderma Skin Involvement: Alopecia (Hair Loss)

Author: Shelley Ensz. Scleroderma is highly variable. See Types of Scleroderma. Read Disclaimer
Overview of Alopecia (Hair Loss)
Alopecia and Autoimmune Diseases
Alopecia and Scleroderma
Alopecia Causes
Alopecia Treatments
Alopecia Research
Alopecia Personal Stories

Overview of Alopecia (Baldness or Hair Loss)

Photo of Alopecia, property of ISN Photo RepositoryAlopecia refers to hair loss, or baldness. Hair loss can be either temporary or permanent, depending on what causes it. Causes of temporary hair loss include gluten sensitivity, infections, thyroid disease, poor nutrition, stress, and medications. Alopecia areata is an autoimmune skin disease, which is caused by genetics. Other causes of hair loss include autoimmune and skin diseases such as scleroderma, discoid lupus, lichen planopilaris, and sarcoidosis.

About Alopecia Areata. Alopecia areata is a common autoimmune skin disease resulting in the loss of hair on the scalp and elsewhere on the body. Alopecia areata affects approximately two percent of the population overall, including more than 4.7 million people in the United States alone. National Alopecia Areata Foundation.

Skin Conditions and Alopecia Areata. Alopecia is the medical term for baldness; there are various types of alopecia, including alopecia areata. WebMD.

Alopecia and Autoimmune Diseases

Distinctive histopathologic findings in linear morphea (en coup de sabre) alopecia. Similar follicular remnants have been reported in chemotherapy-induced permanent alopecia but not in alopecia secondary to morphea or other cicatricial alopecias. Journal of Cutaneous Pathology. (Also see Linear Scleroderma/En Coup De Sabre)

Gluten-Sensitive Enteropathy (Celiac Disease): More Common Than You Think. Gluten-sensitive enteropathy commonly manifests as "silent" celiac disease (i.e., minimal or no symptoms). Serologic tests for antibodies against endomysium, transglutaminase, and gliadin identify most patients with the disease. Gluten-sensitivity can also cause alopecia by an immunologic attack on hair follicles. American Family Physician. (Also see Celiac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity)

Alopecia and Scleroderma

Alopecia (hair loss) may occur with scleroderma, if it affects the scalp. It may also occur due to the side effects of some treatments for scleroderma symptoms, such as chemotherapy. (Also see What is Scleroderma?)

Causes of Alopecia

If your hair is thinning, or if it is falling out in clumps, it is important to see your primary care doctor to find out what is causing it. The cause can be as simple as stress or a bad diet, or as serious as thyroid disease, autoimmune diseases, or infection. A visit to the dentist may also be in order, since even tooth infections can cause hair loss.

Can Wearing a Hat Contribute to Baldness? It's the sort of thing an opinionated grandparent might tell a grandchild wearing a hat indoors, but there are some who believe there's wisdom in the admonishment. Time Healthland, 06/17/2019.

Ischemic modified albumin as a new biomarker in predicting oxidative stress in alopecia areata. IMA has great potential as a biomarker of oxidative stress in AA when compared to other studied biomarkers. PubMed, Turk J Med Sci, 2019 Feb 11;49(1):129-138.

Hair Loss: Common Causes and Treatment. Scarring alopecia is best evaluated by a dermatologist and physician support is especially important for patients in this situation. PubMed, Am Fam Physician, 2017 Sep 15;96(6):371-378.

Hair Loss Linked to Tooth Infections. Following the link between white blood cells, infection, and alopecia, scientists are now studying the effects of tooth infection, and the increase in white blood cells, to sudden hair loss. HairLossExpert, 01/22/2016. (Also see Periodontal Disease)

Histologic features of alopecias: nonscarring alopecias. In this review, the histologic features of the main forms of nonscarring alopecia are described. PubMed, Actas Dermosifiliog.

Treatments for Alopecia

Temporary hair loss due to a simple cause, such as stress from a recent surgery, can be left untreated because the hair will naturally return. Hair loss treatments include first addressing any underlying medical conditions. Hair loss treatments include hair growth medications, hair transplants, and/or wigs or hairpieces. Most hair restoration doctors offer free consultations to evaluate the hair loss and recommend an appropriate treatment plan.

Improvement of androgenetic alopecia (AGA) with topical Sophora flavescens Aiton extract, and identification of the two active compounds in the extract that stimulate proliferation of human hair keratinocytes. Sophora flavescens root extract is effective for the treatment of AGA and the isolated two pterocarpans might have important role in this effect. PubMed, Clin Exp Dermatol. 10/10/2015.

Hair Loss Treatments. For some types of alopecia, hair growth may resume without treatment. Treatments to help promote hair growth, such as Minoxidil (Rogaine), corticosteroids, Anthralin (Drithocreme), and Finasteride (Propecia)—but Finasteride is not approved for use by women. There are also surgical procedures, and wigs or hairpieces. Mayo Clinic.

Alopecia Research

Serum level of interleukin-17A in patients with alopecia areata (AA) and its relationship to age. It is possible that IL-17A plays a role in the pathogenesis of AA. Serum IL-17A may be influenced by patient age and age of onset of AA but does not seem to influence disease severity. PubMed, Int J Dermatol. (Also see Interleukins)

Understanding autoimmunity of vitiligo and alopecia areata. The identification of IFNγ-driven immune signaling pathways has enabled discoveries of potential new treatments for vitiligo and alopecia areata, and supports initiation of larger clinical trials. PubMed, Curr Opin Pediatr, 2016 Aug;28(4):463-9. (Also see Vitiligo)

Alopecia Personal Stories

Dawn M: Linear/Systemic Scleroderma My family and I were informed by the doctors, that the localized/linear form of scleroderma that I was diagnosed with, would never progress into the potentially fatal, systemic form…

Dee B: Limited Scleroderma/CREST Syndrome I also had the problem with people saying I was a hypochondriac, as at that stage all the doctors I saw found nothing wrong with me, but I constantly felt weary and ill…

Margot: Morphea, Linear and En Coup de Sabre I first went to a medical clinic when I noticed a small brownish mark on my stomach resulting in a doctor telling me I was wearing my jeans too tight!

Rosie: Limited Systemic Sclerosis (Australia) Some of my symptoms may not be due to limited scleroderma, however most of these symptoms have appeared since my diagnosis…

Sarah H: Linear Scleroderma When I was very young, two or three years old, my mom started to notice that the top of my scalp was changing…

Tata P: Diffuse Scleroderma I am thirty-two years old, and I have been suffering this illness since I was nine…

(Español/Spanish) Tata P: Esclerodermia Difusa Hola, tengo 32 años, y padezco esta enfermedad desde los 9…

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