I recently received a comment here at The Beard Coach regarding bald patches in the beard. However this did not pertain to the more common problem of having areas that just never really filled in as well as the rest of your beard. This gentleman had already enjoyed a good 17 years of a thick, robust beard, only to find that he is slowly developing new bald patches in his beard on either side of his chin.
You can imagine how terrible this would be if it happened to you!
I did a bit of research into the problem and found some valuable information to pass along so that anyone suffering this distressing development can put his mind at ease to some extent. The condition has a medical name – alopecia areata barbae. It can happen to anyone at any age and the reasons for the disease’s development have not been pinned down by science just yet. Here is what wikipedia has to say about the causes.
“Alopecia areata is noncommunicable, or not contagious. It occurs more frequently in people who have affected family members, suggesting that heredity may be a factor. Strong evidence that genes may increase risk for alopecia areata was found by studying families with two or more affected members. This study identified at least four regions in the genome that are likely to contain alopecia areata genes. In addition, it is slightly more likely to occur in people who have relatives with autoimmune diseases.
The condition is thought to be an autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks its own hair follicles and suppresses or stops hair growth. There is evidence that T cell lymphocytes cluster around these follicles, causing inflammation and subsequent hair loss. An unknown environmental trigger such as emotional stress or a pathogen is thought to combine with hereditary factors to cause the condition. There are a few recorded cases of babies being born with congenital alopecia areata; however, these are not cases of autoimmune disease because an infant is born without a fully developed immune system.”
Another interesting study suggests that alopecia areata barbae could also be an indicator of an infected tooth.
“We have found that bald patches caused by tooth infection are not always in the same place. They normally appear on a line projected from the dental infection and can thus can be located on the face at the level of the maxillary teeth, above a line through the lip-angle to the scalp, beard, or even to the eyebrow.”
So it appears that this condition is not preventable due to the lack of understanding of its causes. That begs the question… is it curable?
The good news is that in the majority of cases, the hair fully grows back on its own. However, the time frame is unpredictable. It could be weeks, months, or years. For severe cases, it appears that a doctor can prescribe a steroid regimen to slow the spread of the bald patch. Minoxidil, commonly known by the brand name Rogaine, can also be used in a treatment plan. However, any of the drugs prescribed would carry the possibility of side effects, so it may be best simply to wait it out.
To summarize, although your beard bald spots are a reason to feel upset, don’t feel too upset because they may be the result of increased stress level anyway! Visit a dermatologist (and perhaps a dentist as well) to get a professional opinion. It’s not normal for a healthy beard to start falling to pieces, so listen to what your body is trying to tell you in its ever-so-dramatic fashion.