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Study Explores Impact of Permanent Hair Loss from Scarring Alopecia


The kind of hair loss known as Scarring Alopecia is often permanent, with hair follicles destroyed by the condition Cicatricial Alopecia.

This is certainly true in cases of Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia (CCCA), which is believed to be linked to or synonymous with a condition named Follicular Degeneration Syndrome, itself also known as Hot Comb Alopecia – though this is something of a misnomer.

CCCA is a condition that most commonly affects black women with afro hair, and doctors in the US have launched a study to try and find out more about how these women are affected by it and how easily they are able to get treatment.

Hair Loss Research StudyEarlier detection may lead to better treatment

Researchers at Northwestern University in Illinois believe that earlier detection of Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia will lead to better treatment and less psychological stress placed upon those who are diagnosed. To explore this, they are recruiting 50 women with the condition to try and ascertain exactly what personal, historical, logistical and environmental factors got in the way of obtaining medical care for their condition.

The doctors will also be asking women with the condition how it has affected their life. They write: “Based on previous research on the psychosocial impact of generalised hair loss in black women, it is fair to consider that CCCA hair loss also leads to problems with self-esteem and participation in daily life activities. This research, the first of its kind, will add to existing knowledge of CCCA by investigating the quality of life and barriers to care of patients with this condition.”

The team’s findings will, they say, be instrumental in modifying dermatology resident training, adding to existing dermatology management guidelines, and even developing public health advocacy programming. The Illinois study is scheduled to finish this summer, although it seems unlikely that the findings will have any bearing on treatment options outside of the US.

Stress, diet and genetics?

Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia is not an especially rare condition, accounting for about three per cent of all hair loss diagnoses, but it is not all that well understood, with causes thought to include stress, poor diet and possibly even genetics. It was once thought to have been caused uniquely by extremely high temperatures of the hot oil applied during traditional straightening treatments (hence “Hot Comb” Alopecia) but this is no longer the case.

What the Illinois doctors have correctly identified is that the chances of someone with the condition making a recovery are greatly improved following early detection.

Whilst most forms of Scarring Alopecia cannot be treated due to the follicles having died, FDS is an exception. With Follicular Degeneration Syndrome treatment the goal is to catch ailing follicles while they are still alive, before scarring sets in. If follicles do indeed still show signs of life, a personalised treatment course devised by a specialist hair loss clinic can often stimulate them back into growth.

The key treatment that these courses are built around is often a recommended formulation of high strength minoxidil. This is applied topically to the scalp once or twice per day, as directed by your treatment advisor, and can also be combined with hair growth boosters to further aid recovery. FDS is often seen alongside another hair loss condition: Traction Alopecia and courses can be customised to address both issues simultaneously.

When pharmaceutical treatment is no longer possible because follicles have died, a hair transplant may sometimes be possible. This is decided solely on a case by case basis and it is imperative that there is enough donor hair elsewhere on the head to work with. As with all hair loss conditions, early detection and a professional diagnosis equate to the best possible chances of regrowth.

Circ - Minoxidil iconThe Belgravia Centre

The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.

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