Shaved scalp: Exclamation mark hairs
Many patients with advanced alopecia areata shave their scalp. For some, this allows a wig to fit better. For others, especially men, the shaving is done to reduce the appearance of hair loss.
Even with a shaved scalp, it is sometimes possible to tell if a patient's alopecia areata is active or not. This is especially true if exclamation mark hairs can be seen. "Exclamation mark" (arrow) hairs are easy to identify with a magnifying device. They are 3-5 mm in size and wide at the top and narrow at the bottom. They signal disease activity and the need for more aggressive treatment if hair loss is to be stopped.
Other features can also be seen on a shaved scalp including yellow dots (and hair follicles lacking a hair follicle) and hair follicles with just a single hair coming out (rather than in groups of 2 and 3 haired follicles).
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