This is your full guide to what causes beard hair loss. There are various causes for non-permanent beard hair loss including genetics and other factors like stress, autoimmune diseases, hormone imbalance, lifestyle, and diet, but at the same time, there are many treatment options available.
What is Beard Hair Loss?
Beard Hair Loss, or Alopecia Barbae, is a sub-condition of Alopecia Areata and an autoimmune condition, which causes unpredictable hair loss when white blood cells attack hair follicles in the body. Unlike Alopecia Areata targeting hair on the scalp, or in severe cases the whole body, Alopecia Barbae only targets hair follicles in the beard, around the cheeks, jaw, and neckline, presenting as small, circular bald patches in those areas.
This type of hair loss is non-scarring and doesn’t cause inflammation in the follicles and skin. Beard hair loss caused by alopecia isn’t normally permanent. In most cases, the hair will grow back but alopecia may reoccur periodically in the future.
Causes of Beard Hair Loss
The exact causes of Alopecia Barbae are inconclusive but could be linked to genetics and hormonal changes, diet, and lifestyle habits. Other factors which could trigger or cause beard hair loss include :
- intense physical or psychological stress
- razor burns
- Beard ringworm (Tinea barbae)
- Traction alopecia
Below we’ll go into more detail about the various causes of beard hair loss.
Although scientists have linked some genes and hair loss, the hereditary nature of alopecia is still unclear as many external factors play a role. Even though there is no proven correlation between genetics and beard hair loss, the likelihood of someone experiencing beard hair loss increases when there is a family history of alopecia, asthma, or allergies. Having relatives suffering from autoimmune diseases including, but not limited to, psoriasis, thyroid disease, and vitiligo may also increase the probability of experiencing beard hair loss.
Intense Physical or Psychological Stress
One way in which stress causes beard hair loss is through the production of cortisol during extended periods of stress. High levels of cortisol speed up beard hair loss. This is because high cortisol levels inhibit the production of testosterone and DHT, hormones necessary for hair growth.
Stress can cause telogen effluvium, a hair loss type in which hair follicles go dormant and fall out suddenly after a few months.
Razor Burns (Pseudofolliculitis Barbae)
In cases where incorrect shaving methods are used, i.e. shaving too close to the skin, razor bumps may occur. Razor bumps are treatable, but may cause scarring and could result in permanent beard hair loss if left untreated.
Beard Ringworm (Tinea Barbae)
Beard ringworm or barber’s itch is a rare infection caused by a fungus called Trichophyton and affects the hair follicles in the beard and moustache. Although it is itchy, it isn’t painful. This type of fungus is not a worm and is called “ringworm,” because it appears as a raised ring-shaped rash on the skin. It is most commonly found in animals like sheep, cows, and horses, and pets like dogs and cats, and contact with these types of animals is most likely how humans are infected.
Beard ringworm is very contagious, but it is highly unlikely to be spread via humans, or through contact with clothing. It is an extremely rare condition and is most prevalent among pubescent and adult males who frequently come into contact with animals. The risk of infection may be exacerbated by these factors:
- Autoimmune diseases
- Skin trauma due to razor burns
- Long-term use of corticosteroids or misuse of anabolic steroids
In some cases, more severe infections occur causing hair follicles to become inflamed resulting in tinea sycosis. These are swollen patches of skin filled with puss which are called kerion and may result in scarring, beard hair loss, fever, fatigue, and swollen lymph nodes. Although tinea barbae is most prevalent in males, females with dark, coarse hair on the neck and face may also be affected.
Chemotherapy may result in changes in hair growth and could cause total hair loss including beard hair loss, but not all cancer treatments will have this effect. The amount of hair loss including beard hair loss depends on the type, amount, and combination of drugs given during chemotherapy, as well of the body’s reaction to the treatment. Hair growth will continue when treatment ceases although it may be patchy and might even be a different colour.
Traction alopecia includes beard hair loss caused by excessive or compulsive beard grooming and may lead to scar formation. Traction alopecia-induced beard hair loss is also common among Sikh men who usually wear their long beards in a tight twist or knot under the chin.
Common Symptoms of Beard Hair Loss
Symptoms of beard hair loss caused by alopecia include the gradual or sudden appearance of small, smooth, circular bald patches in the beard. When left untreated, become larger and overlap to create even bigger bald areas. The hair around the patches may also be lighter and in some cases completely white. Before beard hair loss, the skin may become itchy and irritated.
Beard Hair Loss Treatments
It is always prudent to consult a doctor when presented with a medical condition and although beard hair loss isn’t life-threatening, a medical consultation could eliminate any underlying health issues. Unfortunately, there are no cures for Alopecia Barbae, but the good news is that it can be treated and managed and hair is likely to grow back even though not in the same colour or texture. Alternatively, you can also opt for a beard transplant.
There are several medicinal treatments for beard hair loss like Anthralin, Corticosteroids
Diphencyprone (DPCP), and Minoxidil (Rogaine) that can be used for the stimulation of hair growth.
Home Remedies for Beard Hair Loss
These home remedies are not backed up by science and are mostly anecdotal, but they may have some benefits and won’t cause any harm.
- Garlic Juice
- Aloe Vera
- Castor, coconut or almond oil.
- Fish oil
- Essential oils like lavender,
Alopecia Barbae isn’t permanent but may cause psychological trauma while experiencing it. Consider reaching out to loved ones, a therapist or a support group if it is affecting your well-being and mental health.
What causes beard hair loss?
There are many reasons you may experience beard hair loss. Some of the most common causes are genetics, Tinea Barbae, stress and Traction Alopecia.
Can I prevent beard hair loss?
Yes. There are multiple options to consider to potentially prevent beard hair loss. In order to get the right preventative treatment, ensure you see a doctor.
What are the symptoms of beard hair loss?
Symptoms of beard hair loss caused by alopecia include the gradual or sudden appearance of small, smooth, circular bald patches in the beard.