What is Alopecia Areata?
Alopecia Areata is an autoimmune condition that results in shedding of hair in small and random patches. Alopecia, in general, affects the scalp, but then again it can also occur in other parts of the body.
The exact reason for alopecia still remains undefined. Nevertheless, it has found that most people who have a family history of autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, and type 1 diabetes are the most vulnerable to this condition. The good news for you is that although this illness has no cure, there are treatments which can help your hair regrow quickly and may also, in many cases, prevent future hair loss.
How is Alopecia diagnosed?
While the doctor may be able to diagnose this disease by simply looking at the extent of hair loss, he can also examine a few strands of the hair samples under a microscope. If needed, your doctor can also perform a scalp biopsy to rule out other conditions that may have caused the hair loss, such as fungal infections like tinea capitis. While performing a biopsy, the doctor will remove a small piece of skin (no more than the nail on your little finger) on your scalp for analysis. If other autoimmune conditions are suspected, blood tests may also be done. The specific blood test that needs to be performed depends completely on the particular disorder that your doctor suspects.
How is Alopecia treated?
Hair fall is not a problem as long as it is within the healthy range. In fact, as part of a normal cycle of hair growth, a person loses between 50- 100 strands of hair per day. The problem arises when the daily hair fall is more than 200 with little or no hair growth. In some cases, the hair growth may be slower than usual. All these factors may trigger thinning of the scalp, a condition commonly known as Alopecia. In some cases, the situation gets so bad that it results in baldness (both in males and females).
Alopecia can be of two types:
What triggers severe hair fall or Alopecia in men and women?
Hair fall or Alopecia is no longer a problem associated with old age (Diffuse Alopecia). Young adults (both men and women), in their mid 20's and 30's are suffering from Alopecia. While there may be many factors responsible for alopecia, some of the common and critical triggers are
Hair loss occurs for a variety of reasons, which include physiological, environmental and genetic factors. Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition that results in hair loss. In most cases, hair loss occurs in patches across the scalp. If you lose complete hair from your head due to it, you suffer from alopecia totalis. Moreover, if you lose hair from all over the body, this extreme case is known as alopecia universalis.
How is alopecia areata treated?
Doctors have two options when it comes to the treatment of alopecia areata. The first is to reduce the immune response of the body causing the hair loss. For this, your doctor will prescribe immunosuppressants in the form of corticosteroids. You may need to take it orally or in the form of injections.
The second form of treating alopecia areata is through medication that promotes hair growth. The goal is to increase the rate of growth more than the rate of hair fall. Minoxidil is a popular drug that prevents the formation of new bald patches on your head.
However, both these forms of treatment are dangerous and can lead to serious side effects when used in the long-term.
Side effects of corticosteroids-
Here is a look at some of the dangers that corticosteroids pose to your health if you use them as a form of treating alopecia areata.
Glaucoma and cataracts
Weakened immune system, leading to greater cases of infections
Easy bruising and thinning of the skin
Side effects of minoxidil-
Even though side effects from minoxidil are not as severe as those you suffer from corticosteroids, they are still problematic for your overall well-being. Common side effects from the drug include
Therefore, the conventional treatment for alopecia areata is too dangerous and the side effects from the drugs can lead to severe complications for you in the future.
Ayurvedic treatment for alopecia areata-
Ayurveda terms hair loss as Khalitya and its treatment not only helps stop hair fall but also ensures that hair regrows naturally. Shiroroga, a branch of medicine under Ayurveda greatly helps in this process.
If you seek ayurvedic treatment for alopecia areata, you will undergo treatment with various oils, powders and packs. These are prepared with the help of classical Ayurvedic texts. Panchakarma treatment will also greatly rejuvenate your hair quality and help it grow back. Additional, Ayurvedic experts will also ask you to undergo lifestyle and dietary changes to reduce the effects of the disorder.
The tendency to lose hair under the effect of alopecia areata certainly deserves immediate attention and remedy. This kind of disorder suppresses the normal hair re-growth process by obstructing the natural activities of the follicles. In most cases, the genetic flaw is largely responsible behind the occurrence of this ailment. It is the main reason that people intend to know can alopecia be cured naturally.
The notable alopecia areata symptoms usually gain visibility either at the childhood stage or during the youthful period. It often produces an embarrassing feeling among people belonging to the age group of 25- 30 years. As a result, they either spend money on buying wigs or to perform a hair transplant procedure. But even after such initiatives, they do crave to experience the natural hair revival process once again. Hence, they constantly explore different options to accomplish this desire.
Nowadays, the concept of natural or conventional remedial methods has started to receive a steady response among health-conscious people. These conventional measures are also closely associated with alopecia treatment as well. Now, it is time to discuss some of the methods that shall help to nip the various alopecia areata symptoms in the bud. These are:
In case, you want to solve the problem of alopecia areata with the help of nature then utilizing products like licorice root, Chinese hibiscus, green tea, egg, lemon, honey, and others will definitely be quite beneficial. However, you also need to maintain steady communication with the dermatologist to attain suitable alopecia treatment consistently. Both these efforts will eventually allow you to accomplish the objective of a healthy lifestyle without leading to any sort of disorder like alopecia.
Alopecia areata is stated as a baldness disorder where there is hair loss due to a mistaken attack of the immune system on the hair follicles (the region where hair growth starts). The damage which the hair follicles face is not permanent. However, the reason why the immune system attacks the hair follicles is still unknown. Although this problem is commonly seen in people below the age of 20, it may also be found in adults and children belonging to any age group. Men and women equally fall victim to this disorder.
Causes of Alopecia Areata-
It's yet not perfectly understood what causes alopecia areata. For some reason, follicles stop producing visible hair, resulting in smooth bald patches that can appear overnight. Researchers are trying to determine what triggers the disease, and whether it's from within the body or from environmental factors. There are no diagnostic tests available which can predict the onset and behavior of alopecia areata.
However, there may be some hereditary factors which play a role in hair loss, in about 20% of cases people with alopecia areata have a family member who are also affected. Below area few common factors which are known as a trigger for Alopecia areata.
Exposure to chemicals
Local skin disease
Increased hair fall in ayurveda is termed as khalitya and is classified under shiroroga.
Romakupagata / keshamulagata vitiated pitta (bhrajaka pitta) along with vitiated vata leads to dis-lodgement or withering of the hair from the hair roots. Further to this, vitiated sleshma / kapha along with rakta will cover and causes obstruction to the hair root, which results in no further hair growth from that place.
A few ways of treatment to reduce hair fall and stimulate hair growth:
Pitta Pacification: This type of treatment is stated as an effective ayurvedic treatment to enhance the digestive system including pitta pacification dietary chart and pitta decreasing ayurvedic medication. This therapy removes toxins from the biological system through effective herbs.
Ayurvedic Oil Application: Jasminum grandifolium induced medicated herbal hair oil is highly effective for treating baldness.
Panchakarma Therapy: Panchakarma is defined as five (pancha) remedies (karma) which involve ayurvedic measures to cleanse the body. This therapy is generally seen as a supplement to the whole therapy needed for treating alopecia. Specific suggestions of Panchakarma therapy are shirodhara (head massage with medicated oil) and Ksheera vasthi, which includes medicated enema (injecting liquid or gas into the rectum, to take out the harmful contents like toxins).
Nasya: This therapy is characterized by the ayurvedic intake of medication through your nasal cavity which then eliminates the impurities from there. It is a very effective therapy for treating the signs of alopecia.
Ayurvedic Diet: Ayurvedic diet is considered an essential treatment method for alopecia. Certain food products must be included or increased in the diet. These include:
Food with astringent properties (making skin less oily and reducing bleeding from minor abrasions), sweet and bitter.
Lentils, leafy green vegetables and pulses.