Alopecia Areata: A Closer Look at Shed Hairs
Alopecia areata is a autoimmune condition that affects about 2 % of the world. The condition causes inflammation at the very bottom of the hair follicle (called the "bulb").
As a result of this inflammation, the hair does not grow well because this inflammation interferes with proper growth. Sometimes the fibers are abnormal in appearance (producing a "tapered hair" as shown in the photo). Other times the hairs that fall out are very normal looking telogen hairs (labelled 1 and 2 in photo below) that simply get shed early.
In addition, when the condition is "active" and hair loss is occuring in an accelerated manner, a variety of hairs can be easily pulled from the scalp including telogen hairs (labelled 1 and 2) and a variety of weakened hairs that break off at the root (called "dystrophic" hairs and labelled 3 in the bottom photo).
Analysis of the types of hairs that are extracted from the scalp is important as it gives information not only about the diagnosis itself but the severity of the condition and prognosis.
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