What Can Cause Facial Hair Loss in a Man?

Facial hair loss is unexpected, unwanted or uncontrolled disappearance of facial hair. In men, this form of hair loss commonly occurs as symptom of an autoimmune condition called alopecia barbae. You also might develop facial hair loss if you have an impulse-control disorder called trichotillomania or if you have a chronic autoimmune disease called lupus.

Man with a patchy beard smiles off to camera left. (Image: sylv1rob1/iStock/Getty Images)

Alopecia Barbae

Alopecia barbae is a limited form of a larger disorder called alopecia areata, according to the American Hair Loss Council. It occurs when elements of your immune system mistakenly attack the hair follicles beneath the surface of your skin and trigger the characteristic loss of small, circular patches of hair. While alopecia barbae is limited to your beard, you can develop alopecia areata on any part of your body. In some cases, alopecia areata can trigger complete loss of the hair on your head; this condition is also called alopecia totalis. When alopecia areata triggers hair loss throughout your body, the condition is called alopecia universalis.

Trichotillomania

Trichotillomania is a condition characterized by impulsive or uncontrolled self-pulling of hair from your beard, scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes, chest, genital area or other parts of the body, according to the Trichotillomania Learning Center. While officially classified as an impulse-control disorder, the condition has features that resemble obsessive-compulsive disorder, addiction and tic disorders. The severity and location of the hair-pulling associated with trichotillomania varies from person to person. In some cases, individuals with the condition pull enough hair to form clear patches of denuded skin.

Lupus

Hair loss is sometimes one of the earliest signs of lupus, according to the Mayo Clinic website. This process typically begins with widespread lupus-related skin inflammation, which tends to center on your face or scalp. In combination with other components of the disorder, this inflammation triggers either hair thinning or loss of distinct clumps of hair. In addition to your beard and scalp, lupus-related hair loss can affect your eyelashes, eyebrows or body hair. Once you begin treatment for lupus, your lost hair probably will grow back.

Treatment

The American Hair Loss Association lists potential treatments for alopecia barbae and alopecia areata that include topical corticosteroids, injected and oral corticosteroids and a newer class of medications called biologics. Potential treatments for trichotillomania include a form of psychotherapy called cognitive behavior therapy and antidepressant medications, according to the Mayo Clinic website. The U.S. National Library of Medicine's Medline Plus lists potential treatments for lupus-related skin problems that include corticosteroid creams, low-dose oral corticosteroids and a malaria medication called hydroxychloroquine.

Considerations

No single alopecia treatment works for all individuals, and you might not respond well to any treatment, according to the American Hair Loss Association. In some cases, individuals with lupus develop lesions in or near their hair follicles that trigger permanent hair loss, according to the Mayo Clinic site. If you have trichotillomania, you might respond best to treatment that combines psychotherapy with medications. Women also can develop alopecia areata, trichotillomania or lupus.

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