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Alopecia Areata – Causes, Symptoms & Best Home Treatments To Cure Hair Loss

Alopecia Areata - Hair Loss Causes, Symptoms & Cure
Alopecia Areata - Hair Loss Causes, Symptoms & Cure

What is Alopecia Areata?

Alopecia Areata is a type of hair loss. It often results in random hair loss. The word “alopecia” comes from Ancient Greek. The word “areata” means occurring in patches or limited areas. Alopecia is the medical term used for hair loss. It occurs when the immune system affects hair follicles where hair growth begins. But the damage to the follicle is not generally permanent.

For most of the people, the condition gets resolved even without a treatment within a year, but sometimes hair loss is permanent. It results in few bald spots (about the size of a coin) on the scalp. Though such patches can take many shapes, they are usually round or oval.

Hence Alopecia areata is also known as spot baldness. Alopecia areata is not a communicable disease. Alopecia areata is most common in young people through this condition can affect anyone regardless of their age or gender. Most importantly, women and men are equally affected. It is possible to reverse alopecia. But the treatment needs to be started with proper advice from the doctors before Alopecia Areata reaches the advanced stage.

Though alopecia areata results in random hair loss and in the advanced stage, it could even lead to hair loss across the entire scalp, but it will not lead to death. Alopecia areata is harmless to rest of the body besides causing hair fall

In The Article

Alopecia Areata Causes

The exact cause of alopecia areata is still not known clearly. Alopecia areata is believed to be an autoimmune disease, a disease arising from an abnormal immune response to a normal body part. It is not still known clearly whether alopecia is hereditary. But genetics could be a factor for alopecia areata, though it is not the only factor. It has been found that at least 20% of the affected people have a family history of alopecia areata. Family history of autoimmune disorders like Type 1 diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis could also be a cause of Alopecia Areata.

This type of condition seldom results in complete hair loss but it can prevent hair from growing back.

1. Hair loss from Birth

alopecia-areata-by-birth

  • There are various Congenital Hypotrichosis like Triangular Alopecia (also called as alopecia triangular), Congenital Atrichia and Congenital Aplasia where hair loss is even apparent from birth
  • As genetics is considered as one of the factors, this gene defect can quickly develop in some fetus born to parents who do not have the condition
  • Even if the hair does grow back, it is possible for the hair to fall out again
  • Sometimes stress, illness, and childbirth can cause temporary hair loss
  • Even a low protein or calorie limited diet can also cause temporary hair loss

2. Hair loss due to Dyes

hair-loss-due-to-dyes

  • Sometimes even hair dye could be a cause of alopecia areata
  • Dyes are generally used for coloring the hair
  • Hair dye can damage the hair, but in most of the cases it will not cause hair loss
  • But regular use of dyes might result in hair loss

3. Hair loss due to Smoking

hair-loss-due-to-smoking

  • Similarly, sometimes even smoking could be a cause for alopecia areata, though there is no solid evidence yet for the same
  • The main substances found in cigarettes nicotine and carbon monoxide restrict the flow of blood and oxygen to the hair follicles
  • Hence the hair lacks nourishment and this leads to falling of hair from the scalp

Hair Loss Symptoms

  • The main symptom of alopecia areata is hair loss
  • Some of the other symptoms are itching, anxiety, or small dents in nails
  • It leads to hair fall out in small, random patches
  • These symptoms are indicative of alopecia areata
  • There is no definite period for alopecia areata to spread
  • The hair loss can be sudden, might get developed in just a few days or over a period of a few weeks
  • Some will lose hair in 3 to 4 months. For some, it takes up to 1 year. For some, it even takes 5 years for the hair to completely fall out
  • There may be itching or burning in the area before the hair loss
  • The hair loss typically affects the scalp
  • These kind of patches are usually around few centimeters or so in size resulting in circular bald patches
  • Other parts of the body might also experience hair loss due to alopecia areata
  • Alopecia areata can also affect the fingernails and toenails
  • Nails can become rough or lose their shine or it can become thin and split

Diagnosis

Generally, dermatologist treats alopecia areata. They are doctors who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of problems related to skin, its structure, functions, and diseases, as well as its peripheral (nails, hair, sweat glands). Hair loss alone should not be considered to diagnose alopecia areata. There are other types of diseases as well that might cause hair to fall out similar to alopecia areata

The typical diagnosis procedure includes Hair analysis and Blood tests

1. Hair analysis

hair-analysis

  • Doctors might examine a few hair samples using a microscope
  • Doctors might also perform a scalp biopsy to ensure that hair loss is not due to other conditions including fungal infections
  • As part of scalp biopsy, doctors might even remove a small piece of skin on the scalp for a more detailed analysis

2. Blood tests

blood-tests

  • If other autoimmune conditions are suspected for hair, then doctors might suggest blood tests to be done
  • Doctors would like to test for the presence of one or more abnormal antibodies because if these autoantibodies are found in the blood, it confirms that there is an autoimmune disorder in the body
  • There are other blood tests that can be of help to rule out hair loss due to other conditions like antinuclear antibody test, testing the iron levels and thyroid hormones test

Types of Alopecia

There are different types of alopecia areata

It ranges from mild to much acuter. The kind of treatment given for each type of alopecia might be different

The most common types are: Alopecia total and Alopecia Universalis

1. Alopecia Totalis

 

alopecia-totalis

This results in hair loss across the entire scalp

2. Alopecia Universalis

alopecia-universalis

  • This is more advanced than alopecia total
  • This type of alopecia results in hair loss across the entire scalp including the face
  • This includes eyebrows and eyelashes and the remaining parts of the body including pubic hair

Other types of alopecia areata are:

1. Alopecia areata barbae

alopecia-areata-barbae

It is normally limited to the beard only

2. Alopecia areata multilocularis

alopecia-areata-multilocularis

It refers to the hair loss in multiple areas of the body

3. Alopecia areata monoculars

alopecia-areata-monolocularis

It refers to baldness in only one spot, anywhere on the head

4. Diffuse alopecia areata 

diffuse-alopecia-areata

In this case, hair may be lost more scatter widely over the whole scalp

Though most of the patients recover within 1 year, at least 10% of the people develop alopecia total or alopecia universalis

Best Hair Loss Treatments

There is no complete cure for alopecia areata. But this condition can be treated which might help future hair loss. Treatments are typically decided considering the extent of hair loss and the individual’s age. Though treatments are expected to revitalize hair growth there is no clear evidence to indicate that such treatments can influence the natural course of alopecia areata.
The efficacy of every treatment varies from individual to individual. For some people, treatment may not be needed since their hair grows back automatically on its own. In few other cases, people never get to see an improvement despite trying different treatments
The treatment includes both steroids (common therapies like steroid injections) as well as self-care

1. Chemotherapy Treatment

  • In few cases, photochemotherapy is recommended to promote hair growth
  • This is a type of radiation treatment
  • It uses a combination of oral medication and ultraviolet light

2. Acupuncture Treatment

  • Some people even try acupuncture treatment for alopecia areata
  • Acupuncture helps in getting relief from alopecia areata
  • Acupuncture for Alopecia is an ancient method which helps in resolving the hair loss problem with more success rate
  • It has been found that acupuncture combined with the herbal formula Huoxue Shengfa is safe and powerful for reducing alopecia areata.

3. Treatment with Biotin

  • Biotin also helps in alopecia areata
  • Biotin, or Vitamin B7, is a water-soluble vitamin and it is part of vitamin B complex
  • It acts as a coenzyme in the human body which is needed for the metabolism of fatty acids, amino acids, and glucose
  • Taking biotin does help to thicken hair
  • It is also found that biotin deficiency is not very common but low levels might lead to hair loss

4. Treatment at Home

There are different treatments that can be tried at home

  • Applying onion juice on the scalp – they increase the regrowth of hair in the bald patches. Extract the onion juice and apply it to the scalp twice a day. This accelerates hair regrowth after two weeks. It improves blood circulation and provides the hair follicles with sufficient nourishment. As onion has anti-bacterial properties, it helps to protect from scalp infections that contribute to hair loss.. Making an onion juice is easier. Grate an onion, then strain the pulp. Discard the pulp and use only the juice. Or use a juicer as it is one of the easiest methods. To avoid sensitivity, onion juice can be diluted with water.
  • Mix garlic juice with coconut oil, apply on the scalp, and massage
  • Place a cotton cloth dipped in cooled green tea on the scalp
  • The Chinese hibiscus or hibiscus rosa-sinensis is considered to be a flowery herbal remedy to boost hair growth and control hair fall
  • Regular use of almond oil will reduce dandruff and split ends and it will help to control hair fall
  • Honey, if used regularly for a longer period, can minimize hair fall
  • To massage the scalp with coconut milk – this stimulates the hair follicles and increases hair growth
  • Lavender oil, Mustard oil, Licorice Root are other forms of treatments to enhance hair thickness and growth

5. Rogaine for alopecia areata

  • Rogaine is the brand name for topical minoxidil
  • Rogaine can help to stop the hair loss
  • Sometimes, it can even help regrow new hair

6. Hair transplant for alopecia areata

  • Hair transplant is generally not considered to be a viable option for individuals with alopecia areata
  • However, there are number of treatment options available to explore based on the extent of hair loss and the individual’s age
  • The treatment includes both using steroids as well as natural remedies

Sometimes people can hide alopecia areata. There are different ways to hide alopecia areata. Some of them are:

  • To shave the head completely to hide baldness or thinning hair
  • To grow facial hair as bald men can look good with facial hair, and it will also take attention away from the hair on the head
  • To cover the head with a hat and this will hide baldness very effectively
  • To use a hairpiece made of real human hair that matches the hair color

Natural Treatment

As Alopecia areata is considered to be an autoimmune disease, sometimes people prefer natural treatments that support in improving the immunity of the body and fix nutrient deficiencies. There are many natural remedies that will help to boost the immune system and prevent hair loss

Different Natural treatments are:

  • Applying UV light to the skin
  • Trying out different stress management techniques (that means performing activities that give more happiness or enjoyment, taking a break from hectic work and so on) to reduce stress and improve mental health
  • People can take probiotic supplements like Yogurt, Pickles, apple cider vinegar to improve the immune system. Probiotics are good bacteria that helps to keep the gut healthy
  • Taking foods rich in zinc like pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, cashews also helps to improve the immunity
  • Certain flavonoid antioxidant like Quercetin has strong effects on immunity and it also helps in stimulating hair regrowth
  • Rosemary oil, Ginseng (a famous herbal medicine), are other forms of natural treatments that are used to enhance hair thickness and growth

Alopecia Areata in Homeopathy

There are many homeopathic treatments for alopecia areata. Homeopathic treatment for Alopecia Areata is considered to be more safe and effective
There are different homeopathic medicines for Alopecia Areata that can be prescribed based on the type of hair loss

  • Silica – prescribed for baldness in young people
  • Natrum muriaticum – prescribed in cases of hair loss in anemic females
  • Nitricum Acidum – one of the commonly used drugs for hair loss
  • Other medicines are:
    • Fluoric acid
    • Phosphoric acid
    • Phosphorus
    • Graphites
    • Mezereum
    • Sepia and
    • Lycopodium

The right homeopathic treatment for alopecia areata has to be decided by the doctor

Ayurveda Treatment for Alopecia Areata

Increased hair fall is termed as khalitya in Ayurveda. Alopecia areata is termed as indralupta in Ayurveda. Ayurvedic treatment includes taking of Rasayana and kesh vardhak dravyas internally, applying specially formulated oils or powders externally, panchakarma for detoxification or detox & Kaya Kalpa therapies for refreshment which not only helps in preventing hair fall but also in the regrowth of hairs lost recently.
According to Ayurveda, two of the vital doshas in the body are Vata and Pitta. This gets localized in the hair pores in the scalp region in severe condition. It causes fall of hair and prevents its re-growth. As hair pores are covered with doshas, Ayurvedic treatment focus to remove the covering of doshas over the scalp region, which will automatically bring out regrowth of hair

Alopecia Areata Medication Centers in USA

Alopecia areata cannot be cured completely but it can be treated with proper advice from doctors and the hair can grow back. Anyone can develop alopecia. About 2% of people in the US are affected due to Alopecia areata. But this condition does not affect an individual’s life expectancy.There are many medical centres in the US that provide treatment for alopecia areata

Some of them are:

  • Alopecia Treatment Center in Northville, MI 48167
  • The Griffin Center for Alopecia Areata treatment in Atlanta, GA 30342
  • MD Anderson Centers in Denver, Minneapolis, New York City and San Francisco
  • Cleveland Clinic, a non-profit academic medical centre in Cleveland, Ohio

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