Cicatricial alopecia, also known as scarring alopecia, is a rare type of hair loss in which inflammation destroys hair follicles and causes scar tissue to form in their place. After scar tissue forms, hair doesn’t regrow.
Hair loss may begin so slowly that symptoms aren’t noticeable, or hair may start to fall out all at once. Other symptoms include severe itching, swelling and red or white lesions on the scalp that may resemble a rash. This type of hair loss can occur at any age and affects men and women.
Types of cicatricial alopecia include:
Lichen planopilaris, a type of alopecia, occurs when a common skin condition, called lichen planus, affects the scalp. Lichen planopilaris may cause a dry, flaky rash to appear on the skin that causes hair on the scalp to fall out in clumps. The scalp may also become red, irritated, and covered in small white or red itchy, painful, or burning bumps.
Lichen planopilaris is not common and affects more women than men. A doctor may prescribe medication to stop the hair loss.
Discoid Lupus Erythematosus
Discoid lupus erythematosus is a type of cutaneous lupus, an autoimmune disease that affects the skin. It can lead to inflamed sores and scarring on the ears, face, and scalp. Hair loss is one symptom of the disease. When scar tissue forms on the scalp, hair can no longer grow in that area.
Hair loss caused by folliculitis decalvans, an inflammatory disorder that leads to the destruction of hair follicles, is often accompanied by redness, swelling, and lesions on the scalp that may be itchy or contain pus, known as pustules.
This type of hair loss is not reversible, but dermatologists can offer medication to control symptoms and, in some instances, stop the progression of hair loss.
Dissecting Cellulitis of the Scalp
Dissecting cellulitis of the scalp, a rare condition, causes pustules or lumps to form on the scalp. This condition may also cause scar tissue to develop, destroying hair follicles and causing hair loss. Medications may help control symptoms.
Frontal Fibrosing Alopecia
Frontal fibrosing alopecia typically occurs in a receding hairline pattern and may also result in hair loss in the eyebrows and underarms. Frontal fibrosing alopecia most commonly affects postmenopausal women. Certain medications can manage symptoms and stop the progression of the disease. The cause is unknown.
Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia
Central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia may be caused by hair products or styling techniques that damage hair follicles.
The use of hair relaxers, perming treatments and hair extensions can cause central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia. Likewise, so can frequent use of oils, gels or pomades. This condition may be reversible if you stop using these.