Alopecia areata is not a disease in itself, but is often the symptom of an underlying medical condition. Alopecia is the medical term used to describe hair loss, which is a form of tissue disruption. Every day, the scalp sheds around 30 to 100 shafts of hair. Hair fall exceeding this range is considered abnormal, and may be a sign of alopecia.
Causes of Alopecia Areata
The permanent or temporary thinning or loss of hair is usually an adverse effect of various therapies. A common misconception is that alopecia areata only occurs in cancer patients. Although it is fairly typical in cancer patients who receive either chemotherapy or radiation therapy, it may accompany other conditions.
- Exposure to radiation therapy. Hair loss usually begins within 3 weeks after the start of treatment.
- Chemical exposures. Women who frequent hair salons for various treatments may experience hair loss as a consequence. As a result of exposure to harsh chemicals, the hair becomes brittle and falls or breaks off at the surface of the scalp.
- Autoimmunity. The body’s white blood cells, cytokines, and other components of the immune system target the hair follicles, and impede hair formation. Autoimmune diseases which can be possible causes include ulcerative colitis, thyroid disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus erythematosus, vitiligo, and allergies.
- Heredity. A higher frequency of alopecia has been reported in family members.
Home Cures for Alopecia Areata
A patient with alopecia areata can minimize hair loss through the following:
- Cold showers. As much as possible, avoid anything that gives off heat, including hot showers. Heat opens up and dilates the pores, which can lead to more hair loss. Cold showers on the other hand constrict or tighten the grip of the pores.
- Hair cut. Long hair will add weight against the pore’s grip.
- No hair treatments. Avoid using devices such as iron, curlers, dryers, or hair products such as hair sprays and dyes.
- Wide-toothed comb. Avoid excessive brushing or combing, especially after showers.
- Essential Oils. Jojoba and grape seed oils mixed with herbs such as lavender, thyme, and rosemary can be massaged into the scalp.
- Onion juice. Water mixed with onion extracts can be applied at the scalp daily. Re-growth is noticeable within 2 weeks.
- Vitamin A and D. Strengthen skin integrity of the scalp by lubricating with mixtures that contain vitamins. This will decrease the itching sensation felt during the symptomatic phase.
- Sun protection. The patient is advised to wear hats or any form of scalp protection when going out.