Diseases and Disorders of Our Hair

Published on 20th June 2021


The ITEC level 3 Syllabus for anatomy and physiology and pathology is for therapists, beauty therapists and hairdressers alike, so the hair is covered on the syllabus. 


The partial or complete loss of hair ? especially on the scalp ? either in patches (alopecia areata), on the entire head (alopecia totalis), or over the entire body (alopecia universalis),

Alopecia areata is believed to be a systemic autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks its own anagen hair follicles and suppresses or stops hair growth.

Androgenic Alopecia

A common form of hair loss in men and women.

In men, it is also known as male-pattern baldness.  Hair is lost in a well-defined pattern, beginning in both temples and over time recedes to form an M shape.  It has been associated with several other medical conditions including coronary heart disease and enlargement of the prostate.

In women, hair becomes thinner all over the head and the hairline does not recede. It is associated with an increased risk of polycystic ovary syndrome.


Thick, dark hair on women ? on the face and neck, chest, stomach, lower back, buttocks or thighs.  Caused by an increase in androgen hormones. 

The most common cause is polycystic ovary syndrome, but can also be caused by certain medicines, using anabolic steroids, other hormonal conditions such as Cushing?s syndrome, or tumours affecting the hormone levels.

Ingrown hair

When a hair curls back or grows sideways into the skin.  Can be more prevalent among people who have coarse or curly hair.  Can be accompanied by an infection of the hair follicle (folliculitis) or ?razor bumps? (pseudo folliculitis) which vary in size.

Symptoms include rash, itching skin, and hair which remains inspite of shaving.  The site of the ingrown hair will form a reddish, raised bump, similar in appearance to a pimple.

Pediculosis capitis

Infestation of the head hair and scalp by head louse (nits).

Common symptom is itching of the head, which normally worsens 3 to 4 weeks after the initial infestation. The bite reaction is very mild, and it can be rarely seen between the hairs.  Swelling of the local lymph nodes and fever are rare.

Sycosis barbae

Sycosis barbae is a chronic, recalcitrant folliculitis in which there is inflammation of the surrounding skin area. The upper lip is particularly susceptible in patients who suffer from chronic nasal discharge from sinusitis or hay fever. In men, sycosis is often precipitated by shaving trauma.

Symptoms include burning or itching, with pain on manipulation of the hair.  There are pustules in the hair follicles. Chronic, persistent infection results in spread to the surrounding skins which becomes red and crusted, resembling eczema.


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