Hair loss types: Frontal fibrosing alopecia signs and symptoms
Where does frontal fibrosing alopecia develop on the body?
Frontal fibrosing alopecia (FFA) can cause noticeable hair loss anywhere hair grows.
The most common areas for hair loss are the:
Face (eyebrows and beard area most common)
Hair loss usually begins as a receding hairline, which often starts in the front, along the temples, or both.
Before noticing a receding hairline, some people remember seeing thinning eyebrows or hair loss along the outer edge of their eyebrows.
What are the signs and symptoms of frontal fibrosing alopecia?
Before you see noticeable hair loss, you may develop symptoms. The following explains what symptoms people may develop and shows what FFA can look like.
Itchy or painful scalp
Before seeing noticeable hair loss, many people who develop FFA remember feeling some discomfort on their scalp. Common early symptoms are itch or pain.
Rash along hairline, face, or scalp
Some people develop a rash before they see noticeable hair loss. This rash of small bumps may be red, skin-colored, or yellow. The bumps often feel scaly.
Loss of eyebrows
Many people who have FFA see noticeable eyebrow loss. You may develop thinner eyebrows or hair loss along the outer edges of your eyebrows before you notice a receding hairline. As hair loss on the scalp progresses, some people see complete loss of their eyebrows.
Receding hairline (early)
FFA can develop before menopause. This 30-year-old woman has noticeable hair loss, which looks like a band of lighter skin, on her forehead and temples. This is a common sign of FFA.
Hair loss spreads
With time, the hair loss grows more noticeable. Most people see the hair loss spread backward, as shown here. FFA can also cause hair loss that appears in a zigzag pattern or balding patches.
Advanced hair loss
Without treatment, hair loss tends to spread. As FFA advances, the receding hairline or frontal baldness usually moves back on the scalp as shown here.
Loss of hair in the beard area
While most people who develop this type of hair loss are women, men can develop FFA. In men, signs of FFA include a receding hairline, loss of eyebrows, and the patchy beard growth shown here.
Small, raised bumps on the face
Along with a receding hairline, some people develop small, raised bumps on their face. The pimple-like spots on this man’s face are due to FFA.
Hair loss on arms, legs, or elsewhere
Aside from causing a receding hairline that tends to spread slowly, FFA can cause permanent hair loss anywhere on the body. This man developed a patch of complete hair loss on his lower arm.
A few white hairs change color
While this is rare, a few patients who have snow-white hair have noticed that some of their former natural hair color returns. This typically only happens to a few hairs, but the effect can be noticeable.
As researchers learn more about FFA, they are discovering that some people have a higher risk of developing this type of hair loss. Find out if you do, by going to: Frontal fibrosing alopecia: Causes.
Images 1, 10: Getty Images
Images 2-9: Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology:
2: J Am Acad Dermatol 2017;77:683-90.
3: J Am Acad Dermatol 2005;52:55-60.
4,5: J Am Acad Dermatol 2014;70:670-8.
6: J Am Acad Dermatol 2016;75:1081-99.
7-9: J Am Acad Dermatol 2014;70:670-8.
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Paula Ludmann, MS
Shani Francis, MD, MBA, FAAD
William W. Kwan, MD, FAAD
Last updated: 8/3/22
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