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American Journal of Clinical Dermatology

, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 195–200 | Cite as

The Medical and Psychosocial Associations of Alopecia: Recognizing Hair Loss as More Than a Cosmetic Concern

  • Dustin H. Marks
  • Lauren R. Penzi
  • Erin Ibler
  • Athena Manatis-Lornell
  • Dina Hagigeorges
  • Mariko Yasuda
  • Lynn A. Drake
  • Maryanne M. SennaEmail author
Current Opinion

Abstract

Alopecia encompasses a broad range of hair loss disorders, generally categorized into scarring and non-scarring forms. Depending on the specific pathogenesis of hair loss and geographic location, a number of psychiatric and medical comorbidities, including but not limited to thyroid disease, lupus erythematosus, diabetes mellitus, atopic dermatitis, sinusitis, coronary artery disease, anxiety, depression, and suicidality, have been identified in association with alopecia. In addition to the numerous associated comorbid conditions, patients with alopecia report decreased quality-of-life measures across symptomatic, functional, and global domains. While alopecia can affect patients of all ages, genders, and ethnicities, hair loss may more significantly impact women as hair represents an essential element of femininity, fertility, and female attractiveness in society. Individuals of lower socioeconomic status may also face health disparities in the context of alopecia as a majority of hair loss treatments are considered cosmetic in nature and accordingly are not covered by third-party insurance providers. Although traditionally thought of as a merely aesthetic concern, alopecia encompasses a significant burden of disease with well-defined comorbid associations and genuine psychosocial implications, and thus should be assessed and managed within a proper medical paradigm.

Notes

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Funding

No funding was received for the preparation of this article.

Conflict of interest

Mr. Dustin Marks, Dr. Lauren Penzi, Dr. Erin Ibler, Ms. Athena Manatis-Lornell, Ms. Dina Hagigeorges, Dr. Mariko Yasuda, Dr. Lynn Drake, and Dr. Maryanne Senna have no conflicts of interest to report.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dustin H. Marks
    • 1
  • Lauren R. Penzi
    • 1
  • Erin Ibler
    • 2
  • Athena Manatis-Lornell
    • 1
  • Dina Hagigeorges
    • 1
  • Mariko Yasuda
    • 1
    • 3
  • Lynn A. Drake
    • 1
    • 3
  • Maryanne M. Senna
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of DermatologyMassachusetts General HospitalBostonUSA
  2. 2.Medical College of WisconsinMilwaukeeUSA
  3. 3.Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA

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