Hair Follicle Disorders
Hair loss (alopecia) has multiple causes and is usually a major concern for patients. Androgenetic alopecia, the most common form of alopecia, is related to a variety of genetic and hormonal factors, and it involves a progressive hair thinning that occurs in both men and women, with different degrees of severity. Other forms of hair loss include alopecia areata and cicatricial or scarring alopecia, which can range from loss of some hair to loss of hair from the entire body.
Excessive hair can impact both men and women, and while there are several treatment options on the market, there is still no optimal solution. Depilatory creams and waxing are only effective for a short period of time and have undesirable effects (eg. pain). A variety of laser treatments are used for hair removal, however they target only pigmented hair, are expensive, require numerous physician visits, and can lead to burning and irritation of the treated skin if not performed properly.
Acne is a chronic inflammatory disease of the pilosebaceous follicles, characterized by comedones, papules, pustules, cysts, nodules, and often scars. Sites where it occurs include the face, neck, upper trunk, and upper arms. It is a disease of the adolescent, with 90% of all teenagers being affected to some degree. It may begin in the twenties or thirties, and may persist in adults for many years (1).
Pigmentation disorders involve hypopigmentation, depigmentation, and hyperpigmentation, and they can occur in focal or diffuse areas. Focal hypopigmentation is most commonly a consequence of injury, inflammatory dermatoses such as atopic dermatitis and psoriasis, burns, or chemical exposure. Focal hypo- or depigmentation is also a feature of vitiligo (which may involve large areas of skin), leprosy, nutritional deficiencies, and genetic conditions. Hypopigmentation can also be diffuse; the most important causes are albinism and vitiligo (2).
Nature Biotechnology 18, 20 - 21 (2000) doi:10.1038/71866
(1) Andrew's Diseases of the Skin - Clinical Dermatology, 9th edition, 2000
(2) The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals, 18th Edition