What Is the Difference Between Non-Scarring and Scarring Alopecia?

What Is the Difference Between Non-Scarring and Scarring Alopecia?

Alopecia, a condition that leads to hair loss, affects millions of people worldwide, causing distress and impacting self-confidence. There are different types of alopecia, but two primary categories stand out: non-scarring alopecia and scarring alopecia. Understanding the key differences between these two conditions is essential for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Non-Scarring Alopecia

Non-scarring alopecia, also known as non-cicatricial alopecia, is a type of hair loss that doesn’t involve permanent damage to the hair follicles. This condition is reversible, and the hair follicles retain their ability to regrow hair. Common types of non-scarring alopecia include androgenetic alopecia (male and female pattern baldness), telogen effluvium, and alopecia areata.

Androgenetic Alopecia

Androgenetic alopecia is the most prevalent form of non-scarring alopecia, affecting both men and women. It is typically characterized by a progressive, patterned hair loss. In men, this condition results in a receding hairline and thinning at the crown, while women often experience diffuse thinning across the scalp.

Telogen Effluvium

Telogen effluvium occurs when there is an abrupt shift in the hair growth cycle, leading to increased shedding of hair. This condition is often triggered by factors like stress, hormonal changes, nutritional deficiencies, medications, or postpartum hormonal fluctuations.

Alopecia Areata

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder that causes patchy hair loss. The immune system mistakenly attacks the hair follicles, resulting in the sudden appearance of circular bald patches on the scalp or other areas of the body with hair.

Scarring Alopecia

In contrast, scarring alopecia, also known as cicatricial alopecia, involves permanent damage to the hair follicles, leading to irreversible hair loss. The hair follicles are replaced by scar tissue, hindering any regrowth. This type of alopecia is relatively rare but can have devastating effects on the affected individuals.

Causes of Scarring Alopecia

Scarring alopecia can arise due to a variety of factors, including severe infections, autoimmune diseases, some forms of cancer, radiation therapy, or physical trauma to the scalp. The inflammatory response in these cases causes damage to the hair follicles and surrounding tissues, leading to scarring.

Types of Scarring Alopecia

There are several subtypes of scarring alopecia, each with its unique characteristics. For instance, frontal fibrosing alopecia typically affects postmenopausal women, leading to hairline recession and scarring in the frontal scalp area. On the other hand, lichen planopilaris, another type of scarring alopecia, often presents with reddish-purple patches and scaling on the scalp.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Proper diagnosis is crucial to determine the appropriate treatment approach for both non-scarring and scarring alopecia.

  • Diagnosis of Non-Scarring Alopecia: Diagnosis for non-scarring alopecia involves a thorough medical history review, physical examination, and, in some cases, blood tests or scalp biopsies. Identifying the underlying cause is essential for effective treatment.
  • Treatment of Non-Scarring Alopecia: Treatment options for non-scarring alopecia vary depending on the specific type and underlying cause. For androgenetic alopecia, medications like minoxidil or finasteride may help slow down hair loss and promote regrowth. Telogen effluvium often resolves on its own once the triggering factor is addressed. Alopecia areata may be treated with corticosteroid injections or topical immunotherapy.
  • Diagnosis of Scarring Alopecia: Diagnosing scarring alopecia is more challenging, often requiring a scalp biopsy to confirm the presence of scar tissue within the hair follicles. Additionally, a thorough medical evaluation to identify potential underlying causes is essential.
  • Treatment of Scarring Alopecia: Unfortunately, scarring alopecia is irreversible, and the focus of treatment is primarily on managing the underlying cause and preventing further progression. In some cases, anti-inflammatory medications or immunosuppressive drugs may be used to slow down the inflammatory process and reduce symptoms.


In conclusion, understanding the difference between non-scarring and scarring alopecia is vital for individuals experiencing hair loss and healthcare professionals alike. Non-scarring alopecia is generally reversible and allows for hair regrowth, while scarring alopecia involves permanent damage to the hair follicles. Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment can significantly improve the prognosis for individuals affected by these conditions, offering hope and a chance to regain confidence in their appearance.

At Glojas, we welcome clients to reach out to us directly to schedule a free initial consultation. We offer guidance and valuable insights on how best to address your specific challenges. Let us assist you in navigating your journey with confidence and clarity.

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