It may seem bizarre that a tooth infection could cause hair loss but according to research, if you’re like the one in every thousand who suffers from seemingly random bald patches on your scalp or even your beard, eyebrows and eyelashes, you may need to consult your dentist.
In most circumstances hair loss is genetic, in fact an estimated 80 percent of cases are hereditary. However, sudden patchy hair loss with no apparent cause may be due to alopecia areata an enigmatic autoimmune condition. Alopecia areata can be triggered by a number of factors and new research reveals a tooth infection may be one of them.
Tooth infection and alopecia areata
The study conducted by the professors at the University of Grenada uncovered a close relationship between tooth infection outbreaks and the presence of alopecia areata. Doctor Elena Dimitrova of the Belgravia Centre says it is possible that alopecia could be connected to dental infection.
“Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease and there are a number of factors that could cause the immune system to weaken. If the tooth infection were extreme it could have an effect on hair loss,” Dr Dimitrova said.
It is understood that alopecia areata occurs when white blood cells mistakenly attack the hair follicles, weakening them to the point where hair growth can no longer occur. When a tooth becomes infected, white blood cells work overtime to attack and destroy the infection. These cells can sometimes migrate to nearby cells, such as those found in the hair follicles.
The association of alopecia areata and tooth infection is often detected close to the affected area. Hair loss may be seen in the beard, eyebrow and neck area, on the crown or lower portions of the scalp. In about 50 per cent of alopecia cases patients will experience spontaneous hair regrowth without any treatment within a year, but the likelihood of total regrowth diminishes as the severity of the condition increases. A study reported in the European Journal of Dermatology also estimates that seven to 10 percent of patients may experience more extensive and chronic forms of the disease.
Treating alopecia areata
In light of this recent discovery, many dentists are now being trained to look for sudden patchy hair loss in patients experiencing tooth infections. The good news about infection-induced alopecia is that, because a cause is linked, it can be treated and reversed. If the symptoms are caught in early stages of development, both the infection and hair loss can be easily treated.
Whilst science has not yet demonstrated a cure for alopecia, there are some options available to help treat the symptoms (that is, sudden patchy hair loss). A course of steroid injections into the scalp can help in cases where the bald patches are quite small. The treatment involves several injections about 1cm apart (however the number of injections is often limited by pain) and is repeated every four to six weeks.
However, Belgravia patients have found alopecia areata treatment based around regular, non-invasive applications of high strength minoxidil - a topical drug available from our clinics' in-house pharmacies - to be as effective, if not more so than these injections.
This approach also provides a much more comfortable alternative, with clients frequently seeing significant regrowth results within three to six months of starting their bespoke treatment course, instilling a renewed sense of confidence.