What are Scarring Alopecias (Cicatricial Alopecias)?

Scarring Alopecias refers to a rare group of disorders that destroy hair follicles. Occasionally they are referred to as cicatricial alopecias. The hair follicles are replaced with scar tissue (hence the name). In some cases the hair loss is without symptoms and can go unnoticed for long periods. In other cases the hair loss is accompanied by burning, itching and pain and is more progressive. It occurs in men and women of all ages but it less common in children. Frontal Fibrosing Alopecia, Lichen Planopilaris and Folliculitis Decalvans are three of the more well known Scarring Alopecias.

What do Scarring Alopecias look like?

Despite the name, there is usually no scar on the scalp as the inflammation that destroys the hair follicle occurs below the skin surface. 

Are Scarring Alopecias permanent?

Unfortunately once hair loss has occurred in cases of Scarring Alopecias, the damage is permanent. The cause of Scarring Alopecias is not well understood. What is known is that the inflammation occurs in the upper part of the hair follicle. This is where the stem cells and sebaceous glands are located. If the stem cells and sebaceous glands are destroyed, the hair follicle cannot regrow and hair loss is permanent.

Can Scarring Alopecias be treated?

Yes, treatments are available for the different kinds of Scarring Alopecias. Some Scarring Alopecias are more treatable than others and an early diagnosis from a Dermatologist will provide the best chance of success. 

Further Reading

The British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) has produced Patient Information Leaflets for all types of skin conditions, including types of alopecia. The BAD Patient Information Leaflets provide details of treatment options available. 

CLICK HERE FOR THE BAD PATIENT INFORMATION LEAFLET ON FRONTAL FIBROSING ALOPECIA

CLICK HERE FOR THE BAD PATIENT INFORMATION LEAFLET ON LICHEN PLANOPILARIS

CLICK HERE FOR THE BAD PATIENT INFORMATION LEAFLET ON FOLLICULITIS DECALVANS

Alternatively, you can find a lot of detailed information about scarring alopecias from the Cicatricial Alopecia Research Foundation.