What is a Trichologic Emergency?

Can hair loss be an emergency?

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This morning, I read a publication this morning by hair loss dermatologist Dr Jerry Shapiro from New York University about scarring hair loss conditions. Dr. Shapiro coined the term 'trichologic emergency' which essentially means 'hair follicle emergency."

Hair follicle emergency? 

When you think about it, and emergency is a state whereby if one does not take action immediately - then irreversible and irreparable damage will occur. That's precisely what happens in a group of conditions known as the scarring hair loss conditions. 

What kind of conditions comprise scarring hair loss conditions?

The scarring hair loss conditions include conditions with names such as lichen planopilaris (LPP), pseudopelade of Brocq (PPB), central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia (CCCA), frontal fibrosing aloepcia (FFA), folliculitis decalvans (FD), and dissecting cellulitis (DC).  Unusual names indeed. 

Scarring hair loss conditions are not common. Certainly, as a group, they are far less common than genetic hair loss - male and female hair thinning.  But I see many hundreds of patients with scarring alopecia every year. 

Treatment for scarring alopecia - Put a pause on hair transplants 

The treatment for scarring alopecia requires medicines not surgery. Hair transplants become an option only when the condition becomes quiet.  First and foremost, medical treatments are required to stop the conditions. The treatments are different for the different scarring conditions so there is not one catch all treatments for all.



Siah TW and Shapiro J. Scarring alopecias: a trichologic emergency. Semin Cutan Med Surg. 2015 Jun;34(2):76-80. d 



Dr. Jeff Donovan is a Canadian and US board certified dermatologist specializing exclusively in hair loss. To schedule a consultation, please call the Whistler office at 604.283.1887

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