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What Is Alopecia Barbae? What Causes It and How to Cure It?

You hit puberty and start growing beards faster than your peers and start losing them, shockingly a few years after.

The state where your body attacks its hairs due to an autoimmune condition is known as Alopecia barbae. It causes men to lose some of all of their beards, similar to “Alopecia areata” which caused causes bald spots to appear on scalps of men, woman and even children, “Alopecia totalis” which happens when a person loses all the hair on their scalp, while “Alopecia Universalis” is responsible for the complete removal of hair on the scalp and body.

A 38-year-old freelance photographer Paul Johnson said, “I’d never heard of or come across anyone who’d lost their beard in isolation.”

“I first noticed a 5 pence circle on the neckline, which I didn’t really think anything of at first until it spread to palm size. I’m now left with just my moustache and a few patches of hair on the jawline.”

Ryan Strand had a similar experience when he first noticed a five pence-shaped piece of his beard disappear. He also saw after a few weeks, that the patch got visibly larger and it was apparent he has to seek professional opinions on what was wrong.

“The patch grew and grew to the point that I lost pretty much the entire left-hand side of my beard,” Strand encountered. “As I’m dark haired, I couldn’t even get away with cutting it down to stubble, so I ended up having to shave my beard close, twice a day, otherwise it just looked embarrassing.”

Alopecia barbae happens when your body attacks its own hair, believing it to be foreign. The cause is yet unknown, but it has been historically linked with both psychological and physical stress, which both Johnson and Strand believe was behind the surprising condition.

“The stress on my body was great,” Johnson said. “It wouldn’t be out of the norm for me to run 10 miles on a Saturday morning then sink six to seven pints in the afternoon, sleep poorly, train half-hearted on a Sunday and then be back full on from Monday to Friday.”

Alopecia Barbae

John further explained that it is possible the mental stress most individuals feel could also contribute to having Alopecia. “I believe that the dent on the mental side of my health has shown itself in the form of alopecia. It’s no coincidence whatsoever,” says Johnson.

Treatment of Alopecia

We are aware the cause of alopecia barbae is yet unknown, sadly we also don’t know how long it would take for beard hair to grow back, worst still, Alopecia treatment aren’t that effective.

It is a traumatic part of a man’s life to lose even some part of his hair, especially hair in areas you didn’t expect to lose. Men would forever have questions that need answers, but because of the limited knowledge we have on alopecia, some answers aren’t just enough.

“The doctor I saw was female, and she didn’t seem too bothered. She diagnosed my issue as alopecia, but then proceeded to tell me I should count myself lucky that I’m not a woman suffering from alopecia areata, as that is far more stressful and embarrassing.”

Strand explained, “I was dumbstruck. I pointed out that it is just as embarrassing for me as a man, to only be able to grow half a beard. Her response was to tell me to shave it, but I choose to have a beard, and it was an incredibly big deal to me.”

It is wise all the same to see a professional dermatologist who specialises in hair loss. They are not magicians, but they can guarantee the best way to help manage Alopecia.

Oluwafemi Michael
Oluwafemi Michael is an online Mental Health Therapist, Advocate for Mental Health Awareness, a programmer, and also a content creator from Edo state, Akoko-Edo LG.

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