Rare Scalp Conditions That Can Cause Permanent Hair Loss

1. Sarcoidosis of the scalp

A widely-cited article on sarcoidosis of the scalp published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology from the year 2000 advises that only 24 cases of this condition had ever been reported at that point.

The condition is said to be a “rare manifestation of cutaneous sarcoidosis” which is more common among African-American women, and is diagnosed via a biopsy.

A blood test may also be taken as the British Association of Dermatologists advises calcium and angiotensin-converting-enzyme (ACE) may be elevated in people with sardoidosis. Lung function may also be monitored as this can be affected, too.

In addition to causing Cicatricial Alopecia (scarring hair loss) and non-Cicatricial Alopecia, it may also involve plaques or nodules developing on the scalp.

Treatment for the scalp form of sarcoidosis involves the use of topical, prescription steroid solutions or injections, though where scarring hairloss has occurred, hair regrowth is unlikely as the follicles will have been destroyed in the scarred areas.

2. Lipoedematous alopecia

Lipoedematous scalp causes the layer of fat unde the scalp to thicken; this causes the forehead and/or back of the head to become “soft, spongy or thick”. It is commonly found in women, frequently women of color, and when associated with hair loss, it is referred to as Lipoedematous alopecia.

Although the precise cause of these rare conditions are unknown, factors are believed to include frequently wearing tight headwear and hormonal issues. It has been linked to diabetes mellitus, renal failure and ovarian cysts, among other illnesses.

No treatment or cure for Lipoedematous alopecia exists, though corticosteroids may be used to help stop or slow down its progression.

3. Lumpy Scalp Syndrome

First discovered in 1978, in addition to the obvious symptoms – pus-filled lumps or ‘nodules’ on the top or back of the scalp – Lumpy Scalp Syndrome also causes hair loss in these areas, a lack of nipples, ear deformities and partially webbed toes, according to a November 1990 paper published in the International Journal of Dermatology.

This research states its origins were traced to a woman in Somerset, UK, who died in 1918, via five generations where, of 56 of her direct descendants, 10 were found to have this condition and 2 had partial diagnoses.

Information provided by the US National Library of Medicine advises Lumpy Scalp Syndrome is caused by mutations to the KCTD1 gene and diagnosis involves genetic testing.

The rare inflammatory condition is also known as Scalp-Ear-Nipple (SEN) syndrome or Finlay–Marks syndrome and is generally present from birth, though some symptoms may go away during childhood, including scalp lesions healing.

4. Graham-Little-Piccardi-Lassueur Syndrome

As with many of the above, Graham-Little-Piccardi-Lassueur syndrome (GLPLS) causes cicatricial alopecia of the scalp; it also, however, causes non-scarring hair loss in the armpits and groin areas. Additionally, follicular lichen planus may cause rough bumps to occur around the hair follicles. It is a rare condition that, although it can affect men, is four times more likely to present in women aged between 30 and 70 years old. It can also be accompanied by severe itching in the affected areas.

Potential causes are thought to include stress, genetics, autoimmunity, vitamin deficiencies and hormonal changes, though none have been confirmed.

Although the scarring hair loss cannot be treated in terms of promoting hair regrowth, there are therapies such as corticosteroids, retinoids, antimalaraials and antibiotics, which may slow the rate of hair loss.

Anyone who is worried about losing their hair, seeing extra hair fall or sudden bald patches develop, or notices a drop in hair density should contact Dr. Brandon Ross for a consultation.