A patchy beard can be seen when you lose a certain area of hair in the beard. The medical term for this condition is called Alopecia barbae. It occurs when there is a disorder in the body’s immune system, wherein the body’s inflammation attacks hair follicles.
Symptoms of patchy beard
It is difficult to predict how a patchy beard will develop. Hair loss can occur suddenly. Bald patches can be visible in small circular patches about the size of a quarter. These circles can sometimes overlap with each other when more hair is lost. Hair around the edges of beard patches may also become white.
Skin feels itchy and painful before you start losing your hair. The visible skin is usually smooth, but it can feel rough as well. People also experience redness, inflammation and irritation in and around the bald spots.
Reasons for patchy beard
The exact reason for the patchy beard is still unknown but it can be linked with psychological and physical stress.
Apart from alopecia, there are some other reasons that might be the cause of a patchy beard. Keep reading to know more.
Genetic factors: Sometimes, genetics may also play a role. Certain viruses, infections, medications can trigger alopecia barbae and having a family history of type 1 diabetes, lupus, and psoriasis can also put you at a higher risk of developing alopecia barbae. Some hair follicles can remain dormant for a long time but there’s always a possibility that they can activate anytime soon given the time or the right stimulus.
Hormonal imbalances: Hormones keep changing throughout our life and this can have a negative impact on beard growth. The most important hormone for facial hair growth in men is testosterone. If you are wondering how to boost testosterone levels, check out our blog Foods that boost testosterone.
Imbalance diet/Lack of physical activity: Diet and exercise are critical factors that enhance the overall health and wellness of our body. It also helps in keeping our head, facial and body hair healthy. Feed your beard with the right nutrients like proteins, vitamin A, C and E. Omega-3 fatty acids found in nuts and fishes is also an essential nutrient for the beard. Proper exercise is important because it helps balance hormones and enhances general wellbeing. It also helps to reduce stress and anxiety.
- High stress: Some level of stress is necessary to boost performance but high stress can have a physical impact on health, including skin, muscles and facial hair as well. Too much stress can restrict blood flow in capillaries, which are basically the fuel lines that feed our hair follicles.
Treatment for patchy beard
Sadly, there is no permanent cure for alopecia barbae but you can manage your symptoms to reduce the effects of this condition.
With proper treatment, hair might grow back partially in a different colour or text but there’s a possibility that it could fall out again.
There is no single treatment for everyone with a patchy beard because of individual differences and other environmental factors.
The main objective of these treatments is to restrict the immune system from attacking the hair follicles and stimulate hair growth.
Minoxidil: This is a topical solution used to treat pattern baldness. It can be applied to the affected area as a liquid or a foam twice a day and the results are visible after 3 months.
Corticosteroids: These drugs have anti-inflammatory properties and can suppress the immune system. It can be applied topically or given as shots as well.
Diphencyprone (DPCP): This is directly applied on bald patches. It causes allergic reactions to trick the immune system into sending white blood cells to the surface of the skin to reduce inflammation and keep the hair follicles active. The results can take 3 months to be visible.
- Anthralin: This ointment is often used to treat psoriasis. It is directly applied to the bald patches once a day and left on for about 30 minutes to up to a few hours. It causes skin irritation to promote hair growth. Results can be visible within 8 to 12 weeks.
Tips to prevent patchy beard
A study found that 4 in 5 people with alopecia don’t get enough physical exercise. Becoming physically and mentally active can bring some relief to these conditions because exercise can boost your metabolism. It can also reduce stress and anxiety.
- Go for small walks if you are unable to join a gym. Walking is a great way to enhance your body and mood.
- Do not give up. You do not need to do vigorous exercises. 10 - 15 minutes of focused workout or stretching is enough. Remember, something is better than nothing!
- If you are unaware of how and where to start, do not hesitate to invest in personal training. Your personal trainer will help you set reasonable goals and keep you motivated throughout the sessions. If you feel self-conscious about going to a gym, then a personal trainer would be the best option to explore.
- Do not feel ashamed about your patchy beard. It’s a more common condition than you can think! Get the right support that you need and ask your trainer to personalize your exercises in order to combat alopecia.
Home remedies for patchy beard
Home remedies are a natural way to combat a patchy beard. The results may not be as effective as other treatments but they may be worth a try.
Garlic has natural healing properties that can help in dealing with the symptoms of alopecia barbae. Research has shown that people who used garlic gel along with corticosteroid cream showed signs of improvement.
Zinc and biotin supplements, when included in a healthy diet can promote hair growth and prevent hair loss.
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