September 21 2021
Alopecia areata, or simply alopecia, is a health condition that makes hair fall out from the scalp in small patches. This may go unnoticeable initially but can become easily visible if left untreated. It happens when our immune cells attack our hair follicles, leading to loss of hair. In some cases of alopecia, hair loss might also occur in areas such as eyebrows, eyelashes, and face; other than the scalp. Alopecia Universalis is a condition in which a person completely loses hair. Even if the hair grows back, there are still going to be some chances that they make fall again. However, the process of hair fall as well as regrowth varies from person to person. Alopecia totalis is referred to as the total hair loss from the scalp. Ophiasis alopecia areata on the other hand causes loss of hair in the shape of a band around the sides and the backside of the head of a person.
What are the symptoms of alopecia?
The symptoms experienced by people who have alopecia are:
- Small and bald patches on the scalp, which may also be present on the other parts of the body.
- These patches may increase in size and grow into a big bald spot.
- Excessive hair loss in a short period.
- Brittle and red nails, both in the toe and fingers.
- Increased hair loss when the weather gets cold.
The loss of hair that occurs in alopecia is quite unpredictable, and, also appears to be impulsive. The hair may also grow back, and may even fall out again. This varies from person to person. The bald patches of skin after the hair loss usually appears to be smooth with no rashes or redness. However, one might feel itching or a burning sensation on the hair before they fall out of the scalp.
What causes alopecia?
Since alopecia is an autoimmune disease, the hair follicles are attacked by the immune system. The root cause of this health condition is not known. However, healthcare professionals say that it may be related to genetics, and some other factors, including:
- Hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism
- Seasonal allergy or hypersensitivity
- Down’s syndrome
- Anemia or deficiency of iron
- Genetic factors
Regarding the diagnosis of alopecia, a healthcare professional, usually, a dermatologist, must run certain examining tests. The doctor may examine the nails, may pull the hair gently to see if they fall out easily, and also examine the bald patches. In some rare cases, the doctor may perform a biopsy, i.e. extract a small piece of skin (from the scalp) and examine it microscopically.
How can you treat alopecia?
Alopecia cannot be cured; however, some treatments may facilitate regrowth of hair. Many drugs are usually prescribed by doctors:
- Corticosteroids: These drugs are used in treating autoimmune diseases, i.e. where the immune system attacks a part of the body. Possessing anti-inflammatory properties, corticosteroids are administered to the scalp, through an injection. However, they can also be administered through the oral mode as well as topically, in the form of creams, ointments, or foam.
- Rogaine: the Rogaine or minoxidil treatment is used to treat pattern baldness and usually takes around 12 weeks to show results or growth of hair. And, it does not have positive results with every patient.
- Immunotherapy: topical immunotherapy is a treatment that is used in cases of excessive hair loss, happening time, and again. Some chemical substances are applied to the scalp area to produce allergic reactions, which may grow back the hair. It may also cause rashes.
Prevention of alopecia, naturally
- Biotin: vitamin B7, commonly called biotin, is associated with the synthesis of fatty acids in the human body, which is a necessary process for the life cycle of hair, deficiency of which may cause hair loss or alopecia. You may take it as a dietary supplement to enhance the growth of the hair.
Alvizia’s biotin supplement, a gluten-free option to strengthen and ensure your nails, hair, and skin. It is also essential for the metabolism of macronutrients in the body. This supplement can contribute to the improvement of the body's overall keratin structure, which is an important requirement for healthy hair. It consists of 10,000 mcg or 1 mg of biotin in each serving (which is one capsule). The dosage must be calculated following the recommendations of your dietician. Each bottle of this vitamin B7 supplement contains 90 capsules. For storage, it must be kept in a cool and dry place where there is no exposure to sunlight and moisture.
- Vitamin D: vitamin D has shown some positive effects against alopecia (the type of alopecia that doesn’t cause scarring). If you are experiencing a deficiency of vitamin D along with hair loss, treating with supplementation of the same might be beneficial.
- Coconut oil: coconut oil provides some protection to the hair, from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays and grooming. Lauric acid, which is found naturally in coconut oil, supports protein binding and prevents damage (breakage of roots or strands) to the hair. Massaging this oil into the scalp promotes better blood flow and also enhances hair growth.
- Say no to chemicals: treatments that involve chemicals, such as perms and hair colors, usually cause damage to the hair. One must use alternative methods such as organic colors that are not harmful to the hair. Peroxide, para-phenylenediamine, and ammonia are some of the harmful chemicals present in these chemical hair colors.
- Vitamin A: vitamin A has been shown to enhance hair growth, in many research studies. This vitamin may also help in the production of sebum, which keeps the scalp healthy and promotes hair growth. Some sources such as sweet potatoes, sweet peppers, and spinach can be added to the diet to take vitamin A.
- Olive oil: other than deeply conditioning the hair, olive oil may also protect it from drying and breakage. Being an ingredient in the Mediterranean diet, it is extensively used to slow down hair loss, associated with genetics.
However, all these treatments must be consulted or talked about with a doctor or a dietician before usage.