What is DUPA (Diffuse Unpatterned Alopecia)?

Reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP

Written by Our Editorial Team

Updated 13/07/2022

Hair loss sucks. Regardless of how, or where or when you’re losing hair, there’s no arguing that fact. But hair loss has many forms, and depending on what form of hair loss you have, the treatment options may or may not suck just as much. Because whether you have male pattern baldness or DUPA hair loss, you’re in for very different journeys. 

“What is DUPA hair loss? Why am I suddenly hearing more about it?” These are questions that many men will ask as they start to age and learn that there’s more than one pattern of hair loss. 

There’s more to hair loss than hair thinning — different patterns of hair loss can result in very different visual symptoms because the distribution of hair loss may not be where we expect it.

You may have heard this term from a medical professional or even a barber. You may have seen it in your partner’s search history (it could be much worse). But if DUPA is suddenly a part of your life, you probably have a lot of questions. 

What Is DUPA?

DUPA is an acronym for diffuse unpatterned alopecia — sometimes known as diffuse unpatterned hair loss.

There’s not a lot of information about this condition, in part because it more similarly mirrors other hair loss types like telogen effluvium, which is caused by health issues and bodily stressors.

By contrast, male pattern baldness is genetic and typically fits a formula: crown and hairline go first, and everything else stays in place.

In this way, DUPA actually more closely resembles female pattern hair loss — an all-over diffuse hair loss type. It’s not common in men, but it does happen.

DUPA is distinguished from patterned hair loss and male pattern baldness because it affects the entire scalp, not simply the portion of the scalp most commonly affected by balding (the crown and hair line).

Is DUPA Different From Balding?

Diffuse unpatterned hair loss is different from balding in the shape of pattern hair loss. Otherwise, it is genetically and biologically similar to your standard experience of male pattern hair loss.

Research shows that this sort of hair loss looks more like shedding — your hair thins in all areas of the scalp regardless of androgenetic alopecia patterns.

While the most common cause of diffuse hair loss is telogen effluvium, with DUPA, it can be a result of patterned hair loss, as well.

The main difference in how you would treat DUPA appears to come from what won’t work, and in the case of DUPA, that’s hair restoration surgery or hair transplant surgery — but we’ll get to that in a moment. 

What Causes DUPA?

There isn’t a lot of information about what causes DUPA as opposed to other forms of androgenic alopecia. Generally, genetic hair loss in both men and women is a result of genetics that predict hormonal changes in your hair follicles over time.

Your genetics largely determine whether your hair goes or stays as you age. There are rarely warnings before onset, either.

We wish we had more information for you, but this condition seems to happen rarely. The Internet is full of pictures, but as reliable resources go, there just doesn’t seem to be much in the way of supporting information out there about why men experience this particular condition.

How to Treat DUPA

So, how do we treat something we don’t fully understand? Well, luckily there seems to be a consensus that some of the standard treatments are effective (except hair transplantation, which we mentioned above). 

Studies show that for DUPA, hair transplantation is not an effective treatment for surgery that would otherwise address androgenic alopecia symptoms with donor hair, because the donor hair follicles might not be quality hair follices. 

Experts agree that DUPA sufferers make poor candidates for transplants. The only condition in which hair transplant may be acceptable is if patients with DUPA accept that their results will be limited in scope.

That said, we couldn’t find any evidence suggesting that other, proven medical treatment options won’t help. Other male pattern baldness treatments (and hair loss treatments in general) include medications, vitamins and lifestyle changes.

These hair loss treatment products can help men dealing with genetic or situational hair loss halt and possibly reverse the progress of all alopecia forms. 

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Finasteride

Where the FDA is concerned, one of the best options you have is finasteride: a hormone-blocking medication that has been shown to treat hormonal imbalances and affect dihydrotestosterone (DHT) levels and ward off the conditions for male pattern baldness. 

In some clinical trials, finasteride has shown effectiveness — DHT levels can be reduced by 70 percent when you take finasteride as directed by a healthcare provider 

Minoxidil

Topical minoxidil, which you may know as Rogaine® and which can be used in tandem with finasteride, is believed to stimulate hair growth by cutting short the latent periods for your hair follicles via improved blood flow to the affected areas of the scalp. 

This means they go from resting to growing again, causing a hefty increase in follicle count and volume. 

You may wish to include essential vitamins in your diet or as supplements — some of these can come from food, but others might be found in products like shampoos. Read more in our guide What to Look for in a Men’s Hair Loss Shampoo to learn more.

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Losing Your Hair to DUPA: Next Steps

Whether your hair loss has a diffuse pattern or not, patterned or not, sudden or not, there’s one approach you need to take to treatment: involve a healthcare provider in the process. 

Hair loss — regardless of what type it is — isn’t something handled alone. It takes a professional, and approved treatment options to stop hair loss and attempt to roll back the damage.

Whether getting your hair back or not is possible is another question, but it’s not one you can answer without support. 

If you’re ready to get support for hair loss now, consider using our resources — talk to a healthcare professional now, and dispose of DUPA hair loss today.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment or medication.

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