Beards have always been a popular way for men to express themselves, and many men take pride in taking care of their facial hair and growing it out. Many men like to grow a beard and hope to keep it for many years to come, but that is not always the case. When most people think of hair loss, they think of a receding hairline or the thinning of the scalp rather than facial hair. Unfortunately, it is common for men to start losing their beards or facial hair as they age as well, and there are many causes of this, which we will address below.
There is a condition called Alopecia Barbae, which is the loss of facial hair caused by an autoimmune disease called alopecia. This happens when the immune system attacks the hair follicles, weakening them and eventually leading to hairs not growing. Many people have heard of alopecia, with it referring to the loss of the hair on the scalp; usually, hair falls out in an unusual pattern, or all of it falls out, and this goes for the same when it comes to facial hair. More commonly, the patches on the face are no larger than a quarter, but sometimes they can spread to be larger than that. Same as on the scalp, this can happen in small patches or can affect the entire scalp. In addition, this can occur on your upper lip, cheeks, and chin. This condition can be permanent, but it isn’t always; sometimes, the patches come and go, or they come and stay forever. This only occurs in men who are at the age of growing facial hair, usually sometime after puberty.
As stated previously, alopecia is an autoimmune disease that anyone can acquire. Still, it is more common if autoimmune diseases are in your family or if you already have asthma or allergies. Some people tie stress to the cause of this condition, but this hasn’t been confirmed yet. That could be a plausible cause because hair loss, in general, has been directly tied to stress. Stress can attack the body in many ways, and it has been seen affecting the hair and scalp as well.
It is also common for people experiencing alopecia to start seeing changes in their nails, even before the hair loss begins. This could be seen as weak nails, pitting, or splitting. According to Forhims.co.uk, almost 65 percent of people with alopecia areata experience some degree of nail changes (Alopecia Barbae Hims).
I’m sure you’re wondering, is there a way to treat this condition? The first and most crucial step is to address the problem. Go to your doctor, a dermatologist, or a trichologist (for more information about trichology, visit Thehairsociety.org) for a proper diagnosis and options. Typically, a dermatologist will diagnose alopecia barbae by taking a skin biopsy. There are multiple treatments for this condition, and your dermatologist will start a treatment plan that is best for you and your specific condition. There is a topical medication called anthralin, which was created to help control skin growth; although it is usually used for psoriasis, some dermatologists also use it for alopecia.
Sometimes they will try corticosteroids, which can be either topical or injectable. These can help suppress the immune system and can be localized to your specific hair loss. This treatment can last up to months, depending on the severity of your condition. There is another topical medication called Minoxidil, which can help improve blood flow directly to the hair follicles, which can help stimulate hair growth. Lastly, there is a topical medication called diphencyprone, which works by causing an allergic reaction; it then makes the immune system lessen inflammation and help stimulate hair growth.
There are other causes of facial hair loss other than alopecia barbae, like the dropping of testosterone and DHT. Facial hair growth is triggered by these two hormones, which is why we typically see the beginning of a facial hair journey during puberty. Some men naturally have lower levels of these hormones, causing less facial hair to grow. Another cause could be excessive dieting and nutrient deficiencies. Making sure to have a diet rich in collagen, keratin, and biotin is vital. It is also essential to be careful with your facial hair routine. It is important to remember that simplicity is critical when it comes to this; too much is not the answer. We need to remember not to wash the beard too often. It is also helpful to use a boar bristle brush, which can stimulate hair growth, but it is important not to use it too aggressively. Try to avoid using heat on facial hair, and make sure to use products specifically made for facial hair, not for the scalp.
Unfortunately, this can be a long process of trial and error and waiting, and most men have to try multiple medications before they can find the one that works for them. The medicines don’t always work either, they may work in some spots, but there may always be some bald patches leftover. Another common thing that can happen is that when the hair grows back, it can come back completely different from it before, with different colors or textures. It is also possible to get procedures done if none of the medication is working for you. Just like a scalp hair transplant, it is also possible to do the same with facial hair.
In conclusion, multiple factors can be played into the loss or lack of facial hair, and it could be from your routine, hormones, diet, or even an issue with your immune system. The most important thing is to make sure you go to your dermatologist as soon as you see the problem beginning; it is better to start treatment as quickly as possible to help prevent even more hair loss. If you want to explore more hair loss options, check out thehairsociety.org.
-, Ali Kuoppala, et al. “6 Common Causes of Beard Hair Loss (and How to Stop It).” Beard Resource, 23 Oct. 2020, www.beardresource.com/beard-hair-loss/.
“Alopecia Barbae: Why Beard Hair Loss Happens and How to Treat It.” Hims, www.forhims.co.uk/blog/alopecia-barbae-beard-hair-loss-happens-how-treat-it.