Redness around hair follicles: Perifollicular eythema
Frontal fibrosing alopecia or "FFA" is a scarring alopecia (scarring hair loss condition) that most commonly develops in women 45-65. It causes permanent hair loss. The cause is not know although a mix of immune based mechanisms and hormonal mechanics are likely to contribute. The condition can be asymptomatic - and many patients have no itching, burning or pain.
FFA Disease Activity: How do we know it's' active or not
How do we know whether a given patient's FFA is active? Undoubtedly, the absolute best way is with a photo. If a patient's photo changes over a period of monitoring (6 months or 12 months) the FFA is active by definition.
However, photographs don't capture subtle changes in activity. To accomplish this examination by "dermoscopy" is helpful. In this photo, slight redness around the hairs can be seen. We call this "perifollicular" erythema. (note peri means "around"). In 2013, Spanish researchers Toledo- Pastrana and colleagues published an article in the International Journal of Trichology examining dematoscopic features of FFA. Of 79 patients examined, 66 % showed perifollicular erythema. In patients with active disease, perifollicular erythema was present in 95 % of patients.
Perifollicular erythema is an important sign to look for in FFA. It indicates disease activity and a high likelihood of further hair loss in the patient.
Toledo- Pastrana et al. Perifollicular erythema as a trichoscopy sign of progression in frontal fibrosing alopecia. Int J Trichoscopy 2013; 5: 151-3.
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