Tag Archive for: Alopecia Barbae

Is Losing Facial Hair Normal?

There are countless options for getting rid of facial hair.  You can wax, tweeze, shave, thread, and even have laser hair removal.  Within minutes, you can get the clean, smooth look you want.  But what can you do if you lose hair in your eyelashes, eyebrows, mustache, or beard?  Finding a bald spot on your face is just as alarming as finding one on your head.  Not to mention that it can be a little challenging to cover up. 

However, neither men nor women often talk about losing facial hair, making a lot of people wonder if facial hair loss is even normal.  Is it?  Why does facial hair loss happen?  What can you do if your eyelashes are sparse or your eyebrows or beard are missing patches of hair?  Whether you’re male or female, we’re here to fill you in.  

How Much Facial Hair Loss is Typical?

Facial hair sheds during the hair growth cycle the same way the hair on your head falls out.   So losing a few whiskers or eyelashes when you wash your face is normal.  It just means those hairs were in the resting phase of the cycle.  You shouldn’t look any different when those hairs are missing.  Losing more than a few hairs and seeing a bald patch is a different story.  If that happens, it’s time to visit your dermatologist.

Alopecia Can Cause Bald Spots in Your mustache or Beard

Alopecia can affect more than just your scalp; it can also affect your facial hair.  You can get alopecia in your beard or mustache for a few different reasons. These include:

  • Ringworm infections
  • Telogen effluvium 
  • Chemotherapy treatment
  • Alopecia

In most cases, hair loss in the beard area is not permanent.  Ringworm infections typically resolve with anti-fungal medications.  If you’re unfamiliar with telogen effluvium, it’s hair loss caused by sudden stress.  Anxiety, a high fever from Covid or other illnesses, hospitalization, and other stressful events can trigger telogen effluvium.  It’s usually temporary.  Hair will grow back within six months to a year.  

Alopecia Barbae is Often Treated with Minoxidil and Cortisone Injections

Another reason why men can lose facial hair is due to alopecia barbae.   Alopecia barbae is a form of alopecia areata that affects the beard.  Like alopecia areata, alopecia barbae is an autoimmune condition where your body attacks your hair follicles, causing small circular patches.  Men who have alopecia areata may be more likely to get alopecia barbae.  Hair often spontaneously regrows; however, the condition can flare up from time to time.  Alopecia barbae is often treated with cortisone injections and topical minoxidil.  

Although the exact cause of alopecia barbae is unknown, genetics may be a factor.  Men with allergies, asthma, and other autoimmune diseases are more likely to be affected.  Once you have one autoimmune disease, it’s possible to get others.  

Because of the alopecia barbae’s unpredictable nature, men are often caught by surprise when they see bald patches.  Some men who have the condition report that their skin sometimes feels itchy and painful before their hair falls out.  The skin visible through the patches can be either smooth or rough.  Redness and inflammation can be present in bald spots as well.  Some also report that the hair that grows back in around the bald spot has a different texture than their other hair.  The hairs sometimes grow narrower at the bottom, also known as exclamation mark hairs.

Loss of Eyebrows and Eyelashes is Common Among Both Men and Women

Madarosis is the name of the condition that causes men and women to lose all or some of their eyelash and eyebrow hair.   The hair loss isn’t always symmetrical.  Madarosis can affect just one eye.  

Madarosis can be scarring or non-scarring, just like alopecia.  Scarring means inflammation blocks the hair follicles so new hair cannot emerge.  Scarring doesn’t occur immediately.  It happens over time.  Non-scarring means that the hair enters the resting phase of the growth cycle early, but the follicle remains functional.  

If you notice bald spots in your eyebrows or gaps in your lashes, it’s best to visit a dermatologist as soon as possible.  There are many possible explanations for madarosis, including:

  • Alopecia areata
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Thyroid disease
  • Infections
  • Medications

Early diagnosis and treatment will give you the best possible results. 

Eyelash and Eyebrow Regrowth Products are More Readily Available Than In the Past

Thanks to research, medications that help regrow facial hair are now available.  If your eyelashes or eyebrows are thinning, you may be a candidate for bimatoprost, the main ingredient in Latisse and LumiganBimatoprost is a glaucoma medication that is FDA approved to help grow eyelashes and eyebrows.   The medication was originally developed to treat glaucoma.  During trials, ophthalmologists noticed that bimatoprost had the side effect of increased eyelash hair. Bimatoprost has been studied over time, and research studies indicate that the medication is highly effective (01) in stimulating growth.  

Minoxidil Can Be Used on Facial Hair Too

Minoxidil, typically used on the scalp, is safe to use on your face.  As a vasodilator, minoxidil brings more oxygen to the hair follicles, making them wider so new hair can emerge.  Minoxidil is sold over-the-counter.  However, we recommend that you consult with a dermatologist who is a hair specialist before beginning treatment for your eyebrows, beard, or mustache.  If you discontinue use, any new growth could be lost, so you will want to have a licensed professional guiding you and monitoring your progress.  

Natural-looking Options Exist to Make Eyebrows and Eyelashes Appear Thicker

If medications aren’t an option for you, many temporary and permanent solutions are now available to cover up your face’s sparse, thinning, or bald areas.  Manufacturers have made false eyelashes so realistic that it’s often difficult to tell when people are wearing them.  Tattoo options such as microblading have become mainstream.  People like the natural look.  Make-up can go a long way if you don’t want to go the permanent route.  It’s amazing what a little dark brown eye pencil can fill in.  

Selecting ways to fill in facial hair is a very personal decision.  While some people are comfortable with make-up, others prefer a permanent solution, so they don’t have to reapply daily.  The key is to do what makes you feel the most comfortable.  

What to Do if You Think You’re Losing Facial Hair

If your beard or eyebrows look a little sparse, options exist to make you feel and look better.  As with scalp hair loss treatments, FDA-approved and prescription medications are the strongest, most effective way to go. If you choose this route, you’ll need a board-certified dermatologist to help you with a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.  If you don’t have access to a dermatologist and have questions regarding your facial hair loss, feel free to contact us.  We can point you in the right direction.  Plus, we’re putting the finishing touches on some new prescription-strength facial hair loss products.  We can let you know as soon as they’re ready.  

Resources:

(01) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6054329/