DUPA stands for diffuse unpatterned alopecia, and it is a type of hair loss defined by the fact that hair all over the head starts thinning out, rather than the typical pattern of baldness. It affects women more often than men and usually appears first on the sides and back of the head. DUPA hair loss is rare and can sometimes be overlooked by doctors, who may attribute thinning hair to malnutrition, stress or other external factors.
DUPA is a pattern of hair loss that occurs more rapidly than traditional hair loss. Instead of hair loss occurring gradually in one area, then spreading to other areas, in DUPA, the hair loss occurs almost simultaneously all over the head. It is usually first noticed on the sides and back of the head. Hair thins and falls out in equal amounts. Short hairs sometimes grow to replace it, but those hairs quickly fall out also. The cause of DUPA is not known, but it is thought to be genetic or related to a hormonal imbalance.
DUPA is diagnosed by hair loss in equal amounts all over the head that has not been caused by any obvious chemical or physical events. If it is in advanced stages, it can be diagnosed by asking the patient if he or she has been losing hair, and simply looking at the head and seeing if the hair is thin enough that you can see the scalp. In early stages, an expert can use a magnification device to search for the growth of the distinctive short hairs.
DUPA may appear at any age. The youngest patients are usually in their 20s, and the oldest in their 60s. At first, the signs are not noticeable. Over time, you may notice more hair than usual falling out when you brush or style your hair. Depending on your age, you will soon notice thinning patches of hair and the ability to see through the hair to the scalp. In younger men and women, this progression can take a decade. In older men and women, it often occurs as rapidly as one or two years.
Unfortunately, DUPA patients are not good candidates for hair transplants. The donor hair must be taken from elsewhere on the head, and most DUPA patients do not have quality hair anywhere on their head. In addition, because the hair is so thin, the scar for the transplant is easily seen. Patients with DUPA will eventually lose all of their hair. Many men decide to treat it by simply shaving their head altogether. Women usually choose to wear a wig.
Hair loss treatment solutions, such as those containing finasteride and minoxidil, will not keep patients with DUPA from eventually losing all of their hair. Still, using such treatments can slow down the progress of DUPA and prevent full hair loss for up to 10 years, depending on the age of the patient and severity of the case. Both of the medications listed above only work in about half of the patients.