Alopecia mucinosa, sometimes called follicular mucinosis, is a skin condition that affects the hair follicles. Mucin, a type of protein, is overproduced and accumulates within the hair follicles which then leads to hair loss. Here are four things you need to know about this condition.
What are the symptoms of alopecia mucinosa?
If you have alopecia mucinosa, you'll notice small, red, pimple-like bumps developing in your hair follicles. They tend to form on the skin of the face, neck, or scalp, but anywhere you have hair can be affected. These bumps can be isolated or they can be widespread. You'll also notice hair loss in the affected areas. If you notice these symptoms, see your dermatologist right away.
What causes alopecia mucinosa?
Researchers don't know what causes alopecia mucinosa, but they have a couple of theories. One theory is that the condition is an autoimmune disease. Another theory is that the condition is a reaction to Staphylococcus aureus, a type of bacteria that is commonly found on human skin.
Can it be treated?
There are many treatments available for alopecia mucinosa, but there is no treatment that works for every single case. Your dermatologist may give you a prescription for a corticosteroid cream to apply to the affected areas of your skin. Systemic corticosteroids may also be used if creams don't work for you.
If corticosteroids don't work, your dermatologist may need to look to less traditional treatment methods. Many medications have been used off-label to treat this condition. Dapsone, a drug used to treat leprosy, has proved effective in isolated cases. Indomethecin, an arthritis medicine, has also been shown to be helpful. Even antimalarial drugs have been used to treat this condition!
Ultraviolet A light therapy can also be used to treat alopecia mucinosa. This treatment uses special light bulbs that produce light that is similar to the ultraviolet light the sun produces. You'll be exposed to the light in short, monitored doses.
Alopecia mucinosa can also go away by itself. However, this usually takes between two months and two years, so you may not want to want to wait that long.
Is alopecia mucinosa a common condition?
Alopecia mucinosa is a very rare condition. It's so rare that there is no data regarding its prevalence in the United States, though researchers know that it's more common among kids and young adults than in older people.
If you think you have alopecia mucinosa, talk to your dermatologist, like those at Dermatology Associates, about getting diagnosed and starting treatment.