Alopecia areata (AA) is an autoimmune condition. Inflammation accumulates in and around the bottom of hair follicles leading to many changes to hairs. These changes can best be seen when highly magnified or using a dermatoscope. Dermatoscopic appearance of AA includes broken hairs, black dots, tapered hairs, vellus hairs, exclamation mark hairs, yellow dots and coudability hairs.
This picture shows a tapered hair. It is long but tapers to a very thin strand just before entering the scalp. Compare this to neighbouring normal appearing hairs which as fairly wide as they enter the scalp.
Tapered hairs provide clues that inflammation is present in the skin and further hair loss is likely to occur.
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