Is Your Hair Loss Due to Lupus?

Is Your Hair Loss Due to Lupus?

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that may affect you externally, internally, or both. As with all autoimmune diseases, your immune system erroneously perceives healthy tissue as a threat and attacks it, creating damage and chronic inflammation. 

At the Rheumatology Center of New Jersey, our expert rheumatologists diagnose and treat lupus at our various centers. Although lupus is not currently curable, with the right medication and therapies, you can manage your disease and mitigate the damage.

Is your hair loss due to lupus? Here are some clues that suggest it could be.

Your hair is thinner

If you’re losing hair at an inordinate rate — particularly if you’re younger than middle age — you could have lupus. Lupus attacks healthy cells, including skin cells, and causes widespread inflammation. 

When lupus damages your skin, the follicles in your scalp can no longer hold or grow hairs. The process may be so gradual that you don’t notice it until you see a photo or video from a few years before of yourself with thicker hair. Or you may see evidence in your hair brush or comb in the form of more than the usual number of strands.

The hair at the front of your hairline might also be more fragile than usual and break off. Jagged, short hairs at the front of the scalp are collectively known as “lupus hair.”

Hair loss is an early sign of lupus. If you get a diagnosis and treatment in time, you may slow the disease’s progression.

Your hair comes out in clumps

Unfortunately, inflammation from lupus may cause your hair to fall out in clumps. You could have discoid (i.e., round) lesions on your scalp in the bald spots. The discoid lesions can scar your follicles so that they never grow hairs again. 

The discoid lesions are also a sign that you may have a type of lupus called discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE). The good news is that DLE usually only affects sunlight-exposed areas of your skin and doesn’t affect your internal organs. 

Another name for DLE is chronic cutaneous lupus erythematosus (CCLE). Other types of skin-only lupus include subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus (SCLE), and tumid lupus.

In contrast, the more common systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) affects your skin and hair as well as your internal organs. If you have SLE, you may also notice a red butterfly-shaped rash across your nose and cheeks.

You’ve lost other hair

Lupus might affect other hair on your face and body. If you have lupus you may have thin or absent:

Of course, many other conditions and diseases can cause hair loss, including alopecia, which is why treatment starts with an accurate diagnosis.

You have other symptoms

If your hair loss exists along with other lupus symptoms, call us for a diagnosis and possible treatment right away. Common lupus symptoms include:

You may even have trouble focusing or remembering if lupus has affected your brain.

Lupus can be managed, but not cured

The sooner you get an accurate diagnosis, the sooner you can begin treatments that help slow the progression of disease and control your symptoms. You may benefit from a variety of interventions, including:

You may also need specific treatments for conditions induced by lupus, including infections and high blood pressure.

Find out if your hair loss is normal or a sign that you have lupus. Contact our expert rheumatologists today at the office nearest you. We’re located in Somerville, Flemington, and Monroe, New Jersey.

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