Hair loss has many causes. We have discussed these in our blogs: causes of hair loss are age, genetics, pollution and lifestyles, sometimes it is a result of diseases of the scalp and skin. In this article, I will discuss the disease called Alopecia Areata, which causes bald spots and leads to hair loss in other parts of the body as well. So it is important to go to a doctor and have a diagnosis done if patchy baldness appears, to find out if the cause is the normal loss of hair because of age or because of alopecia areata.
How does it occur? Earlier, a misconception was popular that it spreads from person to person. But research proves that the causes are much deeper. Alopecia Areata is a disease of the immunity system of the body. This autoimmune disorder occurs when the natural disease-fighting system of the body develops antibodies against hair follicles. These attack the hair follicles thinking they are foreign bodies and destroys them, leading to hair loss and can lead to total baldness if it is not corrected. Left on its own, the hair cannot re-grow and the hair damage is permanent and spreads to other parts of the body.
Alopecia is thus associated with baldness though it is a much deeper disease. It is not a happy condition, as patchy baldness on the scalp are difficult to hide. Early diagnosis and treatment are therefore essential. At first small patches are visible, which spread slowly. If you have been suffering from hair loss, take the advice of a doctor as it could be alopecia areata.
Alopecia takes several forms. Alopecia Areata occurs when small patchy baldness appears on the scalp. If it leads to complete baldness, the condition is Alopecia Totalis. Sometimes it starts spreading to the body, causing hair loss on other parts of the body. It is referred to as Alopecia Universalis. If the hair loss is limited to the face, it is called Alopecia Barbae.
Symptoms of Alopecia Areata
When the following symptoms start appearing, you should rush to see a doctor. Timely action can stop the spread of the disease.
The most common symptom of alopecia is noticing the loss of hair. Small bald patches are visible on the patient’s head. You will see hair on the pillow when you wake up in the morning, or in the shower when you are taking a bath. The scalp becomes sensitive and itchy or will have a burning sensation. The patient feels something crawling on the scalp and on the body. When the patient touches or scratches the scalp, the hair comes off. The bald patches which initially appeared small spread rapidly on the head. Other parts of the body that it affects include hair loss on the eyelashes and beard as well.
Alopecia Areata Treatment
As I have mentioned, it is important to see a doctor immediately when bald patches start appearing. Alopecia areata treatment requires simple changes in lifestyles and following simple natural remedies. Alopecia Areata treatment is possible with medicated creams and shampoos along with steroid creams and injections. Minoxidil solution, medicated shampoos or laser therapy also fight this condition.
Patients can introduce some on their own, such as making changes to the diet. For instance, going vegetarian and avoiding animal sources of food is advised. A long term solution is to correct the immunity system of the body. This can be done by prescribing amino acid supplements. In addition, patients are advised to follow regular lifestyles and regular diets. The patient also tries to reduce stress by changing lifestyles. Relaxation therapies are advised. Regular sleeping habits are very important in treating Alopecia.
It is also important to recognise the causes that lead to alopecia. The most common causes are genetics – if it runs in your family chances are that you will develop it too. Apart from that, patients have to be careful about other imposed causes such as:
Hair care: Alopecia is sometimes induced by hair care and styling methods. Using products with harsh chemicals may lead to the body reacting to them. Ingredients in shampoos, conditioners, hair colours must be studied carefully – I have always advocated the use of natural and mild shampoos in my blogs. Excessive hairstyling such as using heat based hair dryers and styling techniques can also increase stress on your scalp and induce Alopecia.
Stress: A common factor is stress. It is very important to follow a healthy lifestyle and reduce stress in one’s life as it may trigger alopecia. The condition may also develop if you use certain medicines or sometimes by extreme weather.
Infections: Alopecia areata can also result as a result of infections. The body develops antibodies to fight the infections and these antibodies may damage the scalp and the hair as well.
Vitamin D deficiency: Correcting vitamin D deficiency is helpful in correcting alopecia symptoms.
A clinical examination will determine Alopecia symptoms leading to scalp examination and follicular status. If the alopecia is just beginning, treatment includes amino acids and supplements for providing nutrition to the hair. Natural remedies can be used. I have already described remedies using natural products that soothe the scalp and nourish the scalp.
If you are a victim of alopecia, you may need to cover your head as people will see the bald patches. The condition can, therefore, be very embarrassing. But with simple remedies and medication, the condition can be cured. Early diagnosis is important. The sooner the condition is treated, the less will be the harm. Thus, sooner controlling of disease will occur. For complete diagnosis and advice, visit an experienced doctor as soon as you notice hair fall.