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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Frontal fibrosing alopecia

Other Names for this Disease
  • FFA
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Your Question

I have been diagnosed with frontal fibrosing hair loss (alopecia).  Is this condition going to cause all of my hair to fall out or will the hair loss stop at some point?  Will medication help, or are the side effects too concerning?

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

Does frontal fibrosing alopecia lead to total hair loss or will hair loss stop at some point?

Frontal fibrosing alopecia (FFA) is usually described as progressing slowly and has been shown to stabilize in many affected individuals; therefore, FFA does not usually lead to total hair loss.  Hair loss has been shown to stabilize both with and without treatment, which has led some researchers to suggest that the hair loss in FFA may stop naturally and thus this condition may not require treatment.[1]  However, other researchers suggest that treatment should be started quickly to control the inflammation that destroys hair follicles in an effort to prevent any additional hair loss.[2] 
Last updated: 4/9/2012

How might frontal fibrosing alopecia be treated?

Unfortunately, there is no proven cure for frontal fibrosing alopecia (FFA).[3]  However, because hair loss in frontal fibrosing alopecia (FFA) is thought to be caused by inflammation of hair follicles, treatment often involves using anti-inflammatory medications or ointments, such as corticosteroids or hydroxychloroquine (brand name Plaquenil), to reduce inflammation and suppress the body's immune system.[2]  One study of 36 individuals with FFA found a significant reduction in symptoms after six months of hydroxychloroquine treatment; however, they found minimal benefit to continuing hydroxychloroquine treatment after six months.[4]  Researchers continue to question whether or not treatment is effective, or if hair loss in FFA stops naturally.[1]
Last updated: 4/9/2012