Ever since Cara Delevingne set the trend for thick eyebrows (although women on the eastern side of the Prime Meridian have been keeping their eyebrows luscious and strong since the dawn of time), the quest to keep your eyebrow hair supremely groomed and in shape has become the primary beauty concern of all women. So now that eyebrows have come into the razor sharp focus of beauty standards that women (again) need to adhere to, it can come as quite a shock for some when they start losing their eyebrow hair. One day you’re lovingly brushing out your thick luscious eyebrows and the next moment you find yourself desperately filling them in with every eyebrow pencil you can get your hands on. You’re confused. You’re anxious. You don’t know what’s going on. And you’re trying out every random hack that the internet spews at you to stop losing your eyebrow hair. Lady, you need to calm down for a second. First, figure out why you’re losing your eyebrow hair in the first place. Let’s look at a few possible causes of your eyebrow hair loss.
Male pattern hair loss has been established as androgen-dependent because it is associated with changes in the androgen receptor and responds to antiandrogen therapy (Ellis et al., 2002). With FPHL, genes that encode aromatase, which converts testosterone to estradiol, are also implicated (Yazdabadi et al., 2008, Yip et al., 2009). The process of androgen biosynthesis is depicted in Figure 1.
Yes. If you wear pigtails or cornrows or use tight hair rollers, the pull on your hair can cause a type of hair loss called traction alopecia (say: al-oh-pee-sha). If the pulling is stopped before scarring of the scalp develops, your hair will grow back normally. However, scarring can cause permanent hair loss. Hot oil hair treatments or chemicals used in permanents (also called “perms”) may cause inflammation (swelling) of the hair follicle, which can result in scarring and hair loss.
Alopecia areata is a chronic autoimmune disease in which the immune system erroneously attacks the hair follicles, causing inflammation and temporary hair loss. Any hair-bearing skin site can be affected by alopecia areata, including the eyebrows. Treatment commonly involves corticosteroid injections into the site of eyebrow loss. Eyebrow hairs usually grow back, but may be a different color or texture than the lost hairs.
Madarosis has also been described in phthiriasis of the eyelid. Phthiriasis palpebrarum is the term used to denote infestation of the eyelashes by the pubic louse or Phthirus pubis, also known as crab louse. The parasite is usually transmitted by sexual contact or through fomites. Heavy infestation may result in involvement of axillae, eyebrows, and scalp. When eyebrows and lashes are involved, blue-gray macules or maculae caeruleae may be found on the shoulders, arms, and trunk. The louse can be identified under the microscope as having a wide body and strong second and third pair of legs.
Trichotillomania is a hair pulling disorder associated with anxiety, stress, depression, boredom and frustration. It is where a person manually removes hairs with their finger, either a few strands throughout the day or sometimes many strands at one time during an emotional outburst. This behavior is usually a means of coping with stress or emotional turmoil. However, it can sometimes become a habit that is difficult to break. The eyebrows is a commonly targeted area as is the scalp.
Lichen planopilaris and frontal fibrosing alopecia inflammatory conditions, in which the inflammation destroys the hair follicle, can cause a scar or permanent hair loss (usually present as red patches with redness and scale around each hair follicle). In the very advanced stages, they may appear as smooth, bald patches where the hair follicles have been destroyed. Androgenetic hair loss is another non-scarring type. The most common type of hair loss, it is due to the complex interplay of genes, hormones, and age.
When a woman is experiencing hair loss and has PCOS, spironolactone is often prescribed and it can be helpful but it’s important as well to address all these other issues when it comes to PCOS related hair loss. It’s also important to know that there is only a mild correlation of elevated testosterone on a blood test and hair loss. This is likely due to the hypersensitivity of the follicle to androgens in PCOS. Basically we get an exaggerated reaction from a smaller amount of testosterone.
But, interestingly — and what most people don't initially realize — is that eyebrow hair loss is often a sign of an internal disease. The classic example of this is an under-active or over-active thyroid. Loss of the outer third of the eyebrow, in particular, is a characteristic sign of an under-active thyroid. Fortunately, thyroid conditions are easily treatable, usually with oral medications, but the medications generally have to be taken for life. The eyebrows should grow back, but there is always the possibility that they may not. The thyroid gland plays a huge role in our bodies, so it is important to have any thyroid issues treated.
Hypoproteinemia causes loss of hair due to premature onset of telogen. Loss of eyebrow hair has been reported due to chronic zinc deficiency in a patient receiving only parenteral nutrition for 2 months. Acrodermatitis enteropathica is an inherited disorder of zinc deficiency which shows loss of eyebrows and lashes in addition to cutaneous manifestations.[72,73] Biotin deficiency can result in encephalopathy, neurological disorders, skin desquamation, and loss of eyebrows and eyelashes. Iron deficiency may be a possible cause for diffuse telogen hair loss; its exact role however is subject to speculation.
A little farther up the follicle is the mysterious feature called the bulge. That's where follicle stem cells live. When they get the right set of chemical signals, these self-renewing cells divide. They don't divide like normal cells, in which both halves become new cells that keep splitting and developing. Only one half of the follicle stem cell does that. The other half becomes a new stem cell, and stays put for future regeneration.
Tames and Goldenring described a case of bilateral loss of eyebrows and eyelashes in a patient with AIDS-related complex who had smoked crack cocaine. This has been attributed to hot vapors during the process of smoking, and which therefore caused singeing of the brows and lashes. There was a complete reversal once the patient abstained from cocaine.