Hair loss and quality of life: could pattern hair loss be more distressing than alopecia areata?

A recent rare study has revealed that patients suffering from pattern hair loss find the condition more distressing than alopecia areata.

The Turkish study was carried out to determine the differences in the quality of life between those suffering from pattern hair loss and alopecia areata. The results, published within the Brazilian An Bras Dermatol Medical Journal, surprised the researchers who initially believed that alopecia areata would be the more distressing condition out of the two.

Interestingly, the study also revealed that women suffering from pattern hair loss or androgenetic alopecia, found it more distressing to live with than men. Here, we’ll look at the recent studies which have been carried out and why pattern hair loss is considered more emotionally taxing than alopecia areata.

Understanding the recent study

The study, entitled ‘Comparison of Quality of Life in Patients with Androgenetic Alopecia and Alopecia Areata’, was carried out in 2018. The researchers wanted to establish how much of an impact hair loss had on patient’s lives.

Largely seen as a cosmetic issue, hair loss is known to have a potentially severe psychological impact on patients. It can cause a reduction in self-esteem and have negative repercussions on a patient’s daily life.

The study included 82 patients suffering from androgenetic alopecia, and 56 patients suffering from alopecia areata. In the androgenetic alopecia group, 30 were diagnosed with male pattern baldness, while 52 were diagnosed with female pattern hair loss. They were assessed using the Turkish quality of life tool (TQL) and Hairdex scale. The data produced by the study was then compared using numerous factors such as gender, age, education, hair loss severity and employment status.

The results showed that those suffering from pattern hair loss experienced a lower quality of life than those with alopecia areata. It was also women who experienced the most distress over female pattern hair loss.

Chinese study backs up findings

This recent study isn’t the only one to look at how different types of hair loss impact a patient’s quality of life. A Chinese study interviewed patients experiencing different types of hair loss. They discovered those suffering from alopecia areata had a more positive outlook than those with pattern hair loss.

The findings concluded that both hair loss conditions can have a moderate impact on daily life. It led the researchers to suggest that the psychological impact hair loss has on patients’ needs to be addressed despite the fact that none of the conditions are life-threatening.

Women find hair loss more distressing than men

One of the more interesting findings of the study was that women find pattern hair loss more distressing than men. However, it’s not overly surprising given that women tend to view their hair as a large part of their identity. The hair is viewed as a feminine quality, so when it starts to fall out and thin, it can cause women to feel like they’ve lost their identity and femininity.

Overall, what these recent studies show, is that the psychological impact of seemingly harmless conditions such as androgenetic alopecia, need to be addressed. Hair loss can have a significant impact on self-esteem and quality of life, and this does need to be recognised in the treatment of the condition.