A disorder leading to the loss of hair that is triggered by a mistakenly attacked immune system on the follicles of hair is termed as Alopecia areata. The hair follicles are the source of hair growth, and they are prone to be attacked by various environmental factors. The damage undergone by the hair follicles is usually not of a permanent nature. Hair growth is observed to occur for in a normal cycle ranging from 1 to 5 years. The rate of growth of hair is approximately 1 cm per month during the growth phase.
At any given point of time during the growth phase, around 80-85 percent of the hair present on the scalp are growing. The remaining hair is in a resting period, which usually falls of after 2-3 months. On a daily basis, around 50 to 70 hair may fall off from the scalp. This hair fall is considered to be normal as it is a part of the resting period cycle. But when the daily count of hair fall increases, then consulting a physician is recommended.
If the physician diagnoses a genetic balding pattern, then it is due to the inability of the follicles to produce new hair. Excessive hair loss does not cause genetic balding. Hair fall affects both males and females, with a significant rise observed with increasing age. The inherited type of hair fall pattern is observed more commonly in males than females.
Balding pattern of males involves loss of hair on the anterior scalp region. Most men lose a significant amount of hair by the time they are 60 years of age. The most common cause of balding in men is the gene-related pattern baldness. They inherit this trait of balding. In this condition, visible hair loss is observed at a very young age, which develops into extensive loss of hair. The loss of hair is preceded by a receding hair line which later turns into baldness on the top of the head.
In women, inherited pattern of baldness can cause a generalized thinning of hair over the scalp.
Etiology – Alopecia areata renders the hair follicles an inability to produce hair. Lack of hair production in the affected area can cause bald patches on the person’s scalp. Currently there are no confirmatory tests available to find the exact cause of this condition. Heredity has been implicated as the known causative factor of alopecia. Other factor that may play a role in causing baldness are environmental factors, chronic illnesses, long-term medications, dysfunction of the thyroid gland, nutritional disorders and deficiencies, anxiety, stress, chronic depression, pregnancy and skin diseases.
According to Ayurveda, hair fall is a ‘shirorog, and is termed as ‘khalitya’. The treatment protocol for Alopecia areata according to Ayurveda is as follows:
1. Pacification of the pitta: This treatment is considered to be an effective method for enhancement of a person’s the digestive system. it is helpful in the elimination of toxins from the body using potent herbal medicines.
2. Oil massage therapy: Medicated herbal hair oil containing Jasminum grandifolium is found to very effective in treating baldness when massaged on the scalp with light circular motion regularly.
3. Panchakarma: This treatment involves the use of five remedies for a complete cleansing process of the body. Among the five remedies of Panchakarma, the ‘shirodhara’ therapy that comprises of a head massage with medicated oil is considered to be very helpful in hair follicle stimulation.
4. Nasya therapy: This treatment therapy involves the administration of medicines through the nasal route. Clearance of the impurities from the nasal route is achieved through this method.
5. Balanced diet: A balanced diet that is based on Ayurvedic principles of food intake is considered to play the most important role in treating Alopecia. Elimination of certain foods is recommended, while certain foods are advised to be eaten on a routine basis. Green leafy vegetables, pulses, lentils, seeds, nuts should be increased in the diet intake.