Have you developed a beard bald patch?

Apr 14th, 2010 by Coach Adam in Beard Education, Beard Science

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.[2] It occurs more frequently in people who have affected family members, suggesting that heredity may be a factor.[2] 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.[7] In addition, it is slightly more likely to occur in people who have relatives with autoimmune diseases.[6]

The condition is thought to be an autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks its own hair follicles and suppresses or stops hair growth.[2] 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.[4] 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.

12 Comments

  • I am a 31 year old duck and my beard is sooo patchy day by day, all my friends comment on it, they even stopped noticing that i dont wear pants!

  • Hey. I just ran into this problem the other morning. Over the summer and until saturday night i have been growing a rather big beard but with “Movember” rolling around and a job that i need to be trimmed up for over the holidays i figured i would shave the beard and rock the moustache and than grow it out before i went back to work. So it looked fine on saturday, than sunday when my shadow started coming back i noticed some spots where it was not growing, i waited until today to get worried and now i have researched and this alopecia areata is the issue. There is no hair on 4 nickel size areas on my chin.
    I JUST WANT MY BEARD BACK!!!!!

  • Hot dang! I had a bald spot developing on my chin and I thought it was odd, the other thing- I have a tooth infection. I thought the tooth infection was going to take care of its self. I’m working on fixing it, but I’m mostly posting this comment to show the far reaching affects of not taking care of one thing or another. thanks for the info!

  • The dental aspect really interests me and i’ll try to explain quickly why.
    Before recently trying to grow a beard which is going pretty well after about 2 months now, the last 10 years I’d been using clippers to leave the appearance of a few days growth and growing for a few days and then clippering back again every 3 or 4 days depending on how I felt… Well I noticed that I grew a big bald spot that lastest for a few weeks, thought very little of it until now. But around that time I was diagnosed with Gum Disease, I spent around 6 months in professional treatment and huge flossing and Tepee regime eventually clearing the problem (which was stress related and long hours working) I now have very healthy gums and lovely white teeth again.. but the penny has dropped reading this article, it must have been something to do with mouth infection that I acquired the bald spot. So anyone with bald spots, got check out you gums and teeth and keep flossing, losing hair or teeth is scary shit that shouldn’t happen until we are very old folk.

  • “Begs the question” does not mean “raises the question”. It’s a distinct type of logical fallacy.

  • just look this up as i am very very hairly on the body but bald on top of my head i have just got two bald spots on under my chin but i am 64 years old with no stess at all?

  • Thank you so much for posting this!! I was so worried that I was just going to have this for life now. I had been maintaining a healthy beard for a few years until a few months ago when a bald spot started growing on my chin. I was devastated. (still kinda am)

  • Hi all, recently I also had the same problem. I also read all these comments and left it. I went to a skin doctor for another issue and that time I have shown that patches to the doctor. He told me that such patches come when the anti agents in our body act on our skin instead of bacteria and germs. He gave me some injections (with the needle which is used for injecting insulin) To my surprise I found hair growth after 3 weeks. Better visit a doctor then reading the comments and waiting for the time it gets cured..

  • I have bald patches in the left and right side of my jaw. The right side grows a little more hair than the left. Is this normal? Will I be able to grow a full beard? I’m only 18.

  • I am 28, and I have always grown a goatee style beard. I was actually challenged to a ‘beard battle’ on the first of April for 4 weeks (the winner with the fullest beard gets very drunk off the losers). I would recommend this to anyone who is attempting to grow a beard, as in my life time I have never had any hair growth on my cheeks (hence keeping the goatee). Between the five ‘warriors’ to take part no one of us had ever grown a full beard and none of us we thought were capable of doing so either. Today is the final day and in the past four weeks alone I have developed a VERY healthy amount of hair on my cheeks which I have quite literally watched turn from thin blonde baby hair to much thicker darker growth. My father and my brothers have are also unable to grow a full beard, so I had pretty much resigned my self to buying a lot of alcohol for the winner. I am amazed at the results of just letting my hair grow for an extended period of time, I think that everyone involved is very surprised at the amount of coverage that we have all received due to our little game, whether it is a mix of testosterone from the competition or the new found confidence in our almost full beards, we have all decided that this was the best thing any of us had done as a group, because as individuals we had long thought about ‘trying’ to grow full beards but have always been put off by the idea of not being able to, but when we added the competitive element between a small number of guys at the office there was a definite motivation to keep going and growing.
    All in all I would recommend this to any one who wants to grow, as it has helped all 5 of us develop much better coverage. It has also enabled us to see how much beards suit us all and I am proud to announce the bearding community has just gained 5 new members.
    So remember if in doubt challenge some colleagues or friends to a beard battle, at least four weeks as we all know that is the minimum time investment needed for any beard, you won’t have more fun.

  • Question; I am 25 years old and have had the hardest time growing a beared. I have two significant spots on my face where hair has never grown. Is there any method to correct this? or am I stuck with a patchy 5 o’clock shadow babyface?

    • At 25, I’m doubtful that those bald patches will fill in. However, if they are relatively small, you can grow your beard out longer, and it should cover them up. I actually have a spot on my right cheek that is a bit thinner than the rest of my face, but I usually wear my beard thick enough to hide it. So my advice is to grow you beard out to a significant length and see how it looks!