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Rev Med Brux. 2004 Sep;25(4):A286-8.

[Psychological consequences of chronic hair diseases].

[Article in French]

Author information

  • 1Service de Dermatologie, Hôpital Erasme, ULB, Bruxelles.


The author is looking to the psychological consequences of chronic hair diseases through a review of the recent literature. In general those consequences are depending on the coping skills and on the personality traits. The effect of hair loss on the quality of life is similar to that of a severe psoriasis. The most important effect is a loss of self-confidence. This is enhanced by an insecure or ambivalent attachment pattern. The coping skills will therefore be different and less flexibles. Two psychiatric syndromes are first mentioned: the body dysmorphic syndrome (very slight or imaginary defect in appearance) and trichotillomania. Androgenetic alopecia leads to an important suffering in women mostly. Alopecia induced by cancer chemotherapy has been reported to cause changes in self-concept and body image. This does not return to the previous state after regrowth of hair for a majority of patients. A cosmeto-oncologic care strategy is developed in our department to improve the quality of life of the patients during this difficult coping period. Alopecia areata has an important psychiatric comorbidity: mostly anxiety and depression. Old stressful life events are frequently reported at the onset of the disease revealing a chronic stress. Those patients have difficulties to express their feelings (what is called alexithymia). With a systemic vision this is interpreted as an unconscious task of avoiding family conflicts. This conflicts are raising the anxiety of family splitting coming from early loss or death in the previous generations. A cautious family therapy helps to change those unconscious myths.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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