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Unexplained Bald Patch May be Caused by Tooth Infection
Researchers have found a very close relationship between tooth infection and localized alopecia or alopecia areata, which is a form of hair loss that has an unknown cause. Localized alopecia usually starts with a bald patch somewhere on the scalp, although it can appear anywhere else on the body. This disease can occur in both men and women of all ages and researchers believe it affects 0.5% of people.
Professors who performed new research at the University of Granada believe that patients who notice unexplained, localized hair loss should first schedule an appointment at the dentist to receive an oral examination.
Alopecia areata is a form of dermatitis that’s believed to be an auto-immune disease. It usually presents as one or more circular bald patches on the scalp, bear or eyebrows, although some patients experience a loss of eyelashes. Most patients see hair regrowth in a few months, although nearly 25% of patients experience a recurrence of hair loss. According to the researchers at UGR, hair follicles are not completely destroyed, which does allow the hair to grow back.
Many patients with this form of hair loss find strange hairs with an exclamation mark shape along the border of the bald patch. Hairs are structurally weak and may fall out. Studies also find that alopecia areata tends to have unpredictable development as some hair may come back in a matter of weeks, while it progresses in some patients to the point of more hair loss on the body and scalp.
The researchers also learned that bald patches caused by dental disease will not always occur in the same place. Still, they typically appear on a line drawn from the site of the infection.
Before this study at UGR, there was little understanding about the cause of alopecia areata. This is the first time a link has ever been established between dental disease and the form of hair loss. It seems hair follicles are attacked mistakenly by the immune system in patients with alopecia areata. There are many risk factors for alopecia, including auto-immune reactions, stress, non-specific reactions of the immune system, a family history of hair loss and genetics.
If you notice strange bald patches appearing on your beard, eyebrows, eyelashes or scalp, your first stop should be the dentist’s office to first rule out a possible hidden tooth infection that’s causing the issue.