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March 10, 2021

Stigmatizing Alopecia—Perspectives of a Bald Dermatologist

Author Affiliations
  • 1Division of Dermatology, Department of Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles
JAMA Dermatol. 2021;157(4):383-384. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2020.5731

Stigma, a powerful term defined as the situation of the individual who is “disqualified from full social acceptance,”1 can relate to a multitude of characteristics. Put another way, stigma is “a social construction that involves at least two fundamental components: (1) the recognition of difference based on some distinguishing characteristic or ‘mark’; and (2) a consequent devaluation of the person.”2(p3) Most skin diseases are potentially stigmatizing because they are so visible.3 Yet skin diseases, especially hair loss, are often deemed cosmetic, which can lead to undertreatment by clinicians, lack of insurance coverage, and substantial psychological and financial burdens.4

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