Photo of El Rubio with alopecia barbae

Does El Rubio Have Alopecia?

In Educate by El Rubio10 Comments

Alopecia Barbae: Patchy Beard Loss

I used to wear a goatee, but for the last year it’s just been the mustache, so I didn’t notice anything at first. However, when I wouldn’t shave for a few days, I started to see little round patches where no hair was growing. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had developed a condition called alopecia barbae.

Recognizing Alopecia Barbae

I’ve never been a guy who can grow a full beard, but my facial hair has always grown evenly around my neck and jawline. Why were these bald patches appearing suddenly? And why were they perfectly round?

I would simply shave the problem away, but after a few shave cycles it seemed like more of these patches were appearing, then as time passed some appeared to be merging into larger, oval-shaped patches. Finally recognizing something was going on, I looked into it.

Paraphrasing from a useful article on Healthline:

Alopecia barbae is a specific form of alopecia areata that affects the beard. Usually, it comes on suddenly and you begin losing beard hair in small circular patches, often along the jawline, though you may lose all of your beard hair. The hair loss can be isolated to your beard, or it can occur in other places, such as your scalp or face.

Bald patches occur in small circular patches about the size of a quarter. As more hair is lost, these circles will sometimes begin to overlap. Hair around the edges of these patches may also be white. Usually, the visible skin is smooth, though it can be rough.

After reading this I felt pretty certain I was dealing with alopecia barbae, but I figured I should get a medical opinion.

After doing an e-visit with Kaiser, where I submitted photographs and described my symptoms, the dermatologist confirmed I had likely developed alopecia areata.

Understanding Alopecia Barbae

With an approach to understanding, and being thoughtful of the real challenges faced by adults and children with more severe forms of alopecia—including the children who receive hair replacements from our charity partners at Children With Hair Loss—El Rubio reflects on his experience with alopecia barbae.

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I’d love to hear about your experience with alopecia in the comments.

Comments

  1. My bald spots in my beard have become thin white hairs, some of which have become thicker. What does this mean ?

    1. Not sure, we’d advise to get any concern you have checked out by a medical professional.

  2. Thanks for sharing this, and hope it helps boost the confidence of others who may experience the same. That’s what you all are about, is fostering a supportive community! My hair wouldn’t be finally long(ish) without this site.

  3. I started noticed my alopecia back in March 2018. It was a spot slightly behind and slightly above my right ear, about the size of my thumb print. I only noticed it when I was running my hands through my hair, overdue for a haircut. After I got my usual cut, I saw the spot more clearly and it was pretty bare bald. I started Google’ing for what it might be (and if it might be a sign of something more serious) and learned that it was alopecia.

    I decided to wait to see if it would clear up on its own. Over the course of about six months, that original spot started to grow in size and by August 2018 there were many more, smaller spots starting to surface, made more obvious whenever I would get my usual hair cut. My barbers would make suggestions and also suggested I see a dermatologist, which I finally did that August when it was obvious it wasn’t going away on its own (and was actually getting worse.) By that time, a smaller spot had also appeared in my facial hair as well.

    The dermatologist I saw evaluated it very quickly and gave me a prescription for a topical steroid that I used according to his instructions for several months. Very, very slowly, the hair started to come back. At first, it was very wispy, thin, and stark white. Over the months, it started to grow back more naturally, with the largest spots taking the longest to fully grow back. Only once did another spot surface (as far as I could tell), and I started using the remainder of the topical steroid on it, but as far as I can tell that spot has also subsided.

    It was actually at that time in August 2018 that I also made the conscious decision to start growing my hair. I figured that if I couldn’t get better from the condition, I could try growing out my hair to hide it. It’s now been two and a half years since my last haircut (don’t worry, I’m getting a trim soon!) and thanks to that dermatologist and that topical steroid, all of the places where my hair had fallen out has grown back. The biggest difference is that any place that the hair has since grown back has come back in extremely gray or stark white, but it’s okay since I’ve had grey hair since I was 16 (I’m now in my early 30s.)

    I feel really fortunate that my experience with alopecia ended this way, both going on a long hair journey of my own and also being blessed to have had my hair grow back. But I do also remember it as a bit of a turning point to have to tell myself to be, live, and act more confident, because if everything really was going to fall out, then I needed to have a “bald is beautiful” moment!

    It’s an odd thing to think about now, but my heart does go out to people experiencing alopecia because it is something that can be very distressing. I’m nearly certain it was life stresses that manifested as alopecia (since apparently stress can be an underlying cause), but sometimes that physical consequence far outlasts the stress that caused it.

    My best wishes for El Rubio and also for anyone else who might come across this who are experiencing alopecia of any and all kinds- there is support for you!

    1. Author

      Thank you Jon for the thoughtful comment and sharing your story! I was very happy to read the topical steroids were effective, but even more so the confidence that has come out of your experience. I hope your long hair journey continues with even more confidence, and I am sure anyone who reads this will feel your support just as I have.

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