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Ask the Medical Expert Archives 2000-2004

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Patchy Hair Loss

January 2000

Q. I am a 31-year-old male. I have recently noticed a bald spot developing on my right cheek. It started out very small but is now 2 cm in diameter. Another spot is developing on my left cheek. Is this reason for concern and what is it attributed to?

A. A localized loss of hair in round or oval areas of the skin is termed alopecia areata. It is usually not due to serious medical illness. This differs from typical male pattern baldness which often is related to male androgen hormones that typically results in receding hair loss on the front or top of scalp.

Possible causes of Alopecia may include idiopathic (unknown), various drugs, thyroid disease, lupus (an inflammatory disease), fungus (yeast), syphilis, vitamin deficiency and stress. Although unlikely to be serious, I would recommend you see a dermatologist for evaluation. Treatment is targeted at the above causes, although often, no definite cause can be found. Sometimes, topical steroids and Rogaine can be helpful.

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