Alopecia can be a debilitating condition that causes hair loss. It’s estimated that 2 to 5 percent of the population suffers from this condition at some point in their lives. There is no cure for alopecia, but there are treatments available that can improve the quality of life for sufferers. (1)
Alopecia occurs when the hair follicles are destroyed, leading to hair loss. The cause of it is usually unknown, but it can be triggered by various factors, including stress, genetics, and lifestyle choices.
If you suffer from it, you need to be aware of the various treatments available. There are several steps that you can take to improve your quality of life and protect yourself.
Hair loss in patches is a symptom of the disorder alopecia areata. These patches might unite and then stand out more. When your immune system destroys the hair follicles, a disorder called alopecia areata develops.
According to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation, this type of hair loss affects over 7 million people in the United States on a yearly basis (NAAF).
It can have an impact on persons of any age, sex, or ethnicity. Alopecia areata can start in adolescence or later in life. Additionally, it varies from person to person.
First of all, there are many types of alopecia.
- There are many types of alopecia, but the most common is androgenetic alopecia.
- Alopecia Areata is another common type of alopecia. (2)
- Androgenetic alopecia is usually hereditary, but it can also be caused by stress.
Alopecia areata causes
An autoimmune condition is called alopecia areata. This indicates that your immune system accidentally targets a particular part.
Your immune system surrounds and attacks your hair follicles when you have alopecia areata (the part of your body that makes hair). The associated hair falls out as a result of this attack on a hair follicle.
Your immune system will target more hair follicles, resulting in increased hair loss.
It’s crucial to understand that even while this attack results in hair loss, the hair follicles are rarely completely destroyed. It follows that your hair can grow back. The likelihood that your hair will recover naturally increases with less hair loss.
Hair loss symptoms and signs might include:
Gradual thinning on top of the head. This is the most common type of hair loss, affecting people as they age. In men, hair often begins to recede at the hairline on the forehead.
Women typically have a broadening of the part in their hair. An increasingly common hair loss pattern in older women is a receding hairline (frontal fibrosing alopecia).
Circular or patchy bald spots. Some people lose hair in circular or patchy bald spots on the scalp, beard, or eyebrows. Your skin may become itchy or painful before the hair falls out.
Sudden loosening of hair. A physical or emotional shock can cause hair to loosen. Handfuls of hair may come out when combing or washing your hair or even after gentle tugging.
This type of hair loss usually causes overall hair thinning but is temporary.
Full-body hair loss. Some conditions and medical treatments, such as chemotherapy for cancer, can result in the loss of hair all over your body. The hair usually grows back.
Patches of scaling that spread over the scalp. This is a sign of ringworm. It may be accompanied by broken hair, redness, swelling, and, at times, oozing. (3)
alopecia medical treatments
Although alopecia areata cannot be cured, it is treatable and hair can regrow.
Drugs used to treat other illnesses are frequently utilized to treat alopecia. Among the alopecia areata treatments are:
Anti-inflammatory medications called corticosteroids are recommended for autoimmune illnesses. Corticosteroids can be administered orally (as a pill), topically (rubbed into the skin), or as an injection into the scalp or other places. A gradual response to therapy is possible.
The topical medication Rogaine ® (minoxidil) is being used to treat male pattern baldness. Before hair starts to grow, Rogaine treatments typically last 12 weeks. (4)
Psoriasis medicines, topical sensitizers, and other medications with variable degrees of efficacy are also used to treat it (drugs that are applied to the skin and cause an allergic reaction that can cause hair growth).
Alopecia home remedy
Onion juice, Aloe vera, coconut milk, coconut oil, peppermint, and lavender oil are some natural treatments for alopecia areata that may be effective as they irritate the scalp and promote hair growth to some level.
Lavender and other essential oils, Milk thistle, Ginkgo, Kelp, potatoes, peppers, cucumbers, onions, green tea, rosemary, henna, aloe vera, fenugreek, licorice root, and Chinese hibiscus are some other natural therapies. (5, 6)
Things to avoid when you have alopecia areata
You must eliminate grains, legumes, nightshades (such as potatoes and peppers), dairy, eggs, caffeine, alcohol, sugar, salt, and food additives while following the AIP elimination diet.
You can gradually introduce the banned foods back into your diet after a few months to see which ones cause inflammation.
If you’re worried about alopecia areata, don’t be! There’s no reason to panic and there are many things you can do to treat it.
If you have any questions or concerns about your own health, please contact a doctor at once.
Frequently asked questions
Is alopecia caused by stress?
It develops when your immune system attacks your hair follicles. This may be triggered by stress, and it can result in hair loss. Hair may be lost in round patches on the scalp, or across the entire scalp.
Can alopecia areata be cured?
The good news is most people who have alopecia areata are healthy. It’s still normal to want to camouflage small symptoms, though. If you have small patches, you can use a hair-colored powder, cream, or crayon. If they are larger, you can try a wig, hairpiece, scarf, or hat.
Is alopecia a serious problem?
It is, simply put, hair loss. If you have alopecia, you might see extra hair on pillows or in shower drains, or you might notice bald patches on your scalp. Over time hair loss can grow back or fall out permanently, depending on the cause. It is not curable, but it’s treatable and not life-threatening.
How do you stop alopecia from spreading?
Avoiding unnecessary hair or scalp trauma, reducing stress, and analyzing your diet are all worthwhile endeavors when attempting to prevent alopecia areata from spreading.
1. Lee, H., Jung, S. J., Patel, A. B., Thompson, J. M., Qureshi, A., & Cho, E. (2020). Racial characteristics of alopecia areata in the United States. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 83(4), 1064-1070.
2. Molina, L., Donati, A., Valente, N. S., & Romiti, R. (2011). Alopecia areata incognita. Clinics, 66, 513-515.
3. Harries, M. J., Sun, J., Paus, R., & King, L. E. (2010). Management of alopecia areata. Bmj, 341.
4. Fenton, D. A., & Wilkinson, J. D. (1983). Topical minoxidil in the treatment of alopecia areata. Br Med J (Clin Res Ed), 287(6398), 1015-1017.
5. Harvey, C. J. (2020). Combined diet and supplementation therapy resolves alopecia areata in a paediatric patient: A case study. Cureus, 12(11).
6. Pham, C. T., Romero, K., Almohanna, H. M., Griggs, J., Ahmed, A., & Tosti, A. (2020). The role of diet as an adjuvant treatment in scarring and nonscarring alopecia. Skin appendage disorders, 6(2), 88-96.