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Lesser-known Manifestations of Alopecia: Eyebrow Hairloss and Baldness

Updated on November 2, 2015

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What Is Alopecia? Can It Affect Your Eyebrows?

Alopecia is a potentially distressing condition which involves loss of hair. This is generally agreed to be due to the body's immune system attacking the hair root and causing it to weaken and go into a 'resting' phase. There are several different types e.g. alopecia areata, alopecia totalis and alopecia universalis. Alopecia areata involves small rounded patches of hairloss on the scalp and in the eyebrows. Alopecia totalis is complete loss of hair from the scalp. Alopecia universalis is just what it sounds like: complete, utter and total loss of hair from the scalp, face and body, including eyebrows and eyelashes.

If you are not a sufferer it is a difficult condition to really empathise with, but it’s not that hard to imagine that it could be rather upsetting to live with. Probably most of us focus on the distress that loss of hair from the scalp would cause, but other areas may well also cause discomfort. For women in particular, the eyebrows are a focus of facial beauty. Eyebrow loss can give a face a peculiar denuded look, as anyone who has ever gone way overboard with eyebrow plucking can readily attest. Eyebrow hairloss is often combined with loss of eyelashes to create an even more disconcerting 'nude' look.

Eyebrow Hair Loss: What Are The Treatments?

A number of celebrities suffer from alopecia including eyebrow hair loss, e.g. Gail Porter and Duncan Goodhew. Several have spoken out about their experiences, which is often helpful to other sufferers.1

What can be done about loss of eyebrow hair? In the case of loss of scalp hair, at least the choice of whether or not to opt for a wig is always available. Concealment of loss of eyebrow hair can be a more tricky task. A sufferer may personally or with professional assistance make efforts at cosmetic concealment, perhaps with eyebrow pencil or tattooing. A recent study suggests that dermatography may be a preferable and more sophisticated alternative to tattooing. This procedure involves the application of dots of pigment to the eyebrow area and is described as a quick and cosmetically satisfactory alternative to tattooing, without the risk of side-effects or discomfort.2


Treatments For Alopecia And Eyebrow Hair Loss

Drugs e.g. triamcinolone, minoxidil and steroids have been used to stimulate hair growth and eyebrow hair growth with some positive results. Barankin et al3 also reported a case of hair transplant to the eyebrow area in a case of alopecia areata: this was somewhat successful for several months and progress maintained with drug treatment.

Many alternative and complementary treatments are touted as remedies for alopecic hairloss, including loss of eyebrow hair. Herbs, foods and natural treatments such as nettles, aloe vera, liquorice root and jojoba oil have been recommended, for example by Brigitte Mars.4 If you choose to see an alternative practitioner, there is an excellent article recommended by alopeciaonline.org.co.uk on choosing someone who is reputable and right for you.5


References.

[1] Brockes, E. “Q: Aren't you too brainy to be a TV presenter? A: Too brainy? That's why all my hair fell out.” Guardian Online. 7/11/2005. (6/12/2009). <http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2005/nov/07/broadcasting.comment>

[2] van der Velden, E., RD, DDSD, Drost, B.H.I.M., MD, Ijsselmuiden, O.E., MD PhD, Hulsebosch, H.J., MD, PhD. “Dermatography as a new treatment for alopecia areata of the eyebrows.” International Journal of Dermatology. 37:8 (2002): pp. 617 - 621

[3] Barankin, B., Taher, M., Wasel, N. “Successful Hair Transplant of Eyebrow Alopecia Areata.” Journal of Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery: Incorporating Medical and Surgical Dermatology. 9:4 (2005): pp. 162-164.

[4] Mars, B. “Beauty By Nature.” Summertown: Healthy Living Publications, 2006.

[5] Ash Communications Healthcare. “Skin Care Campaign Guidelines when considering a complementary treatment Incorporating Royal College of Nursing guide guidelines for choosing a safe complementary or non orthodox treatment or practitioner.” 2004. (6/12/2009). <http://www.skincarecampaign.org/pages/sccguidelinescomplimentary.htm>

[6] Alopecia UK. “Frequently Asked Questions About Alopecia.” 2004-2007. (6/12/2009). <http://www.alopeciaonline.org.uk/about/faq.asp>

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