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  5. All You Need To Know About Alopecia Areata

Are you wondering what’s causing you sudden hair loss? Alopecia areata might be the underlying reason.

The autoimmune disorder can be correlated with Indralupta in Ayurveda, a condition that tends to upset your normal hair growth and causes hair fall in small patches. “Time-tested Ayurvedic remedies can help control the loss caused to your hair and prevent it from any major damage,” says Dr. Zeel Gandhi, Chief Ayurvedic Doctor at Vedix.

Here, we help you understand what causes Alopecia areata and what are the different Ayurvedic remedies to treat this condition.

What Is Alopecia Areata?

Alopecia Areata [1] is an autoimmune condition in which your body’s immune system attacks its own hair follicles, causing hair loss. The white blood cells in your body that form the immune system, attack the hair follicles, making them abruptly miniaturize. The shrinking of hair follicles prevent nutrition from reaching your hair, thus causing your hair to fall out.

According to Ayurvedic texts, an imbalance of Vata Pitta Kapha (tridoshas) and Rakta (blood) leads to Alopecia Areata.

What Does Alopecia Areata Look Like?

alopecia aerata spot baldness

Alopecia Areata is a non-scarring, inflammatory hair loss disease that makes your hair fall out in patches. Hence, if diagnosed with Alopecia Areata your scalp is likely to have a few bald patches. In extreme cases, it can even lead to complete hair loss.

Early signs of alopecia areata can be noticed in your nails even before you start losing your hair. Changes in your nail health such as pitting or small dents in your nails [2] can be an early indication of this condition. However, the best way to find out is by checking if the health of your hair is deteriorating or if you are experiencing excessive hair fall.

Hair that grows around the bald patches have the characteristics of an exclamation mark with the thickness reducing as they taper down. New strands of hair replacing the old strands tend to grow back finer and more brittle.

Alopecia Areata is one of the most common hair fall diseases that can occur even in children and teenagers. One among five people are diagnosed with Alopecia Areata.

Is Alopecia Areata Curable?

According to Ayurveda Chikitsasutra, further hair loss caused by alopecia areata can be prevented if diagnosed in its early stages. “Providing your hair with the required Poshana (nourishment) and treating the problem with Rasayana (rejuvenator) made from special Ayurvedic herbs can cure the problem in most cases,” says Dr. Zeel.

In some minor cases of alopecia areata, your hair regrows on its own covering the bald patches in 6 to 12 months. For others, you can rely on Ayurvedic therapies to slow down the rate of your hair loss and help it regrow quickly.

What Causes Alopecia Areata?

The cause of alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder [3]. The body’s immune system abruptly targets the hair follicles making them shrink. Such miniaturized hair follicles fail to produce healthy hair, thus causing hair loss in patches.

As per Ayurveda, whenever there is an imbalance in the harmony of the Tridoshas, your body falls into a diseased state. In alopecia areata, aggravated Vayu and Pitta Doshas on your scalp target the hair follicles, making them shrink. On the other hand elevated levels of Kapha combine with Rakta and block the hair follicles, cutting off their nutrition source. This prevents new hair growth and causes the existing hair to fall off.

Alopecia areata is often considered a genetic disease which can be inherited. Especially people less than 30 diagnosed with Alopecia areata have genetics to blame.

Symptoms Of Alopecia Areata

guy point his hair loss

Alopecia areata can be prevented if the condition is addressed at its onset. The symptoms are as follows:

1. Small circular bald patches on the scalp, face or other parts of the body. [4]

2. Mild itching or sensitivity may be experienced in the bald areas.

3. Hair around the bald patches become thinner as they go down. Since they have the appearance of an exclamation mark, these hairs are referred to as exclamation hair.

4. Some people with alopecia areata may see structural abnormalities in their nails such as dents or red nails.

It is advised to consult your Ayurvedic doctor at the earliest in case you notice any of these symptoms.

What Are Types Of Alopecia Areata?

Alopecia areata has 3 variations. Let us take a look below to understand the differences:

1. Alopecia Areata

Patchy hair loss leading to circular or oval bald spots are noticed in this condition. Alopecia areata is an auto-immune disease mainly found in people with a family history of this disease.

2. Alopecia Totalis

People affected with Alopecia Totalis experience complete hair loss on the scalp.

3. Alopecia Universalis

Alopecia Universalis is a rare version of the disease where hair loss occurs all over the body - scalp, beard, eyebrows, eyelashes etc., thus leaving the entire body hairless.

Ayurvedic Cures For Treatment Of Alopecia Areata

all scalp related problems solution lotion

The Ayurvedic system of healing believes that the root cause of a disease needs to be determined before administering a solution. Your Ayurvedic doctor is most likely to test your Dosha levels and determine your Prakriti before prescribing a suitable remedy. This holistic approach of Ayurveda not only cures a disease but also prevents it from recurring.

Since, alopecia areata is caused due to the aggravation of your Vata-Pitta-Kapha Doshas and Rakta (blood), the following remedies will help to restore the equilibrium of your Doshas and cure the disease.

1. Herbs To Prevent Alopecia Areata

A list of herbs are mentioned in Ayurvedic texts to have ‘Keshya’ properties meaning they are good for hair growth. Include these herbs in your diet or apply them on your scalp to boost your hair growth.

A. Triphala

Triphala serves as a powerful hair stimulant that promotes hair growth by rejuvenating your hair follicles. Amla in triphala helps restore your scalp’s pH balance, resulting in healthy hair growth. Bibhitaki, another ingredient in Triphala, helps fight scalp infections with its antifungal and antibacterial properties.

B. Yashtimadhu

Yasthimadhu effectively balances Vata and Pitta Doshas, two key doshas whose elevation causes hair fall. It also prevents dandruff, scalp irritations caused in the affected areas.

C.Tila

Tila or sesame seeds are rich in omega fatty acids which nourishes your hair roots and moisturizes your scalp. They also improve blood circulation which rejuvenates your hair follicles.

D. Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera has many hair benefits. For instance, its cooling effect calms the aggravated Pitta dosha which can cause inflammation and excess heat on your scalp. Aloe juice when applied to your scalp helps it to get rid of excess sebum or residues of hair products. With Vitamin A, C, E, Vitamin B12 and folic acid, aloe vera nourishes your hair and prevents hair loss.

E. Brahmi

Brahmi is a wonder herb that removes toxins from your body and acts as a blood purifier. This helps oxygen and nutrition to easily reach your hair follicles. The alkaloids in Brahmi make your hair thicker and shinier.

F. Amla

Amla is an expert in fighting Palitya or premature greying caused by excess Pitta on your scalp. It strengthens your hair shafts and its antimicrobial properties keeps scalp infections away.

G. Alfalfa

Alfalfa [5] is often consumed together with carrot and lettuce to improve hair growth. Loaded with vitamins, Alfalfa acts as a hair stimulant and prevents hair fall.

H. Bathua

Bathua is a useful weed when it comes to hair care. Rich in Iron, Phosphorus, Vitamins A, B, C, Calcium and Fibre, Bathua gives your hair a nutrition boost making hair shafts stronger and less prone to damage. It also purifies your blood which is essential in the treatment of Alopecia areata.

2. Essential Ayurvedic Hair Oils

head scalp massage spa salon ayurvedic

Ayurvedic hair oils are a unique blend of herbs that stimulate the scalp and hair follicles by bringing harmony of your Doshas.

A. Bhringraj Taila

Bhringraj oil is well known for its hair restoration properties. Enriched with Vitamin E, D, polypeptides, calcium, magnesium and iron, it forms a rich source of nutrition for your hair. It improves blood circulation in your scalp and restores damaged hair follicles. Bhringraj helps in controlling premature greying of hair or Palitya. It effectively balances the Vata Pitta dosha of your scalp and prevents the spread of alopecia areata.

B. Bakuchi Taila

Bakuchi is an Ayurvedic herb used in the treatment of alopecia areata. It balances Kapha and Vata Doshas on your scalp, thus reducing hair loss. Bakuchi oil is also used to treat Palitya or premature greying and inflammation of hair follicles.

C. Gunja Taila

The use of Gunja or Indian Licorice oil to treat alopecia is recorded in ancient Ayurvedic texts. It balances Vata and Pitta doshas on your scalp. It also acts against itching, dandruff, inflammation and other scalp infections. Gunja oil can be combined with Bhringraj oil for better results.

D. Vidarigandha Taila

Vidarigandha Taila is specifically used to cure alopecia areata. It balances the Vata PItta doshas which otherwise cause excess heat and burn in your hair follicles. When the doshas are brought back to their normal levels, the hair follicles are able to produce new strands of hair.. Vidarigandha hair oil is used in both Abhyanga (head massage) and Nasya (administering oil through the nasal cavity) Ayurvedic treatments.

E. Onion Oil

Onion Oil contains sulphur which causes hair to grow in the bald patches that occur in alopecia areata. Small onion juice is applied on the affected areas for 2 to 3 weeks to notice new hair growth. Full of antioxidants, Vitamins A, C, E and B1, calcium and iron, this oil prevents hair follicles from shrinking, thus preventing hair loss.

3. Ayurvedic Shampoos For Controlling Hair Loss

dried shikakai reetha soapnut powder bowl

A. Reetha Shikakai And Amla Shampoo

Reetha (soapnut) and Shikakai (soap pod) have been used since ages to cleanse hair naturally. Rich in antioxidants and iron, reetha gently cleanses your hair and boosts your hair health without any harmful effects.

Shikakai is enriched with the goodness of Vitamin C which helps in hair growth. It also maintains the normal pH level of your scalp, keeping your hair moisturized and shiny.

Add in a little amla for that extra goodness to prevent your hair from prematurely greying. Amla controls your Pitta dosha levels and fights off scalp infections with its antimicrobial properties.

B. Hibiscus Shampoo

Hibiscus is one of the prominent herbs used for treating Alopecia. It is known for its ability to regrow hair even in bald patches where the hair follicles have been dormant. Hibiscus shampoo results in a healthy scalp and lustrous hair that is strong and damage proof.

Make a paste with 5 to 6 hibiscus leaves and 2 to 3 hibiscus flowers. You can add yogurt to the paste to apply it as a hair mask.

4. Medical Treatments For Alopecia Areata

man alopecia areata on head center

A number of medical treatments are available for people suffering from alopecia areata. After the diagnosis, your doctor is most likely to prescribe the following treatments depending upon the severity of the case.

A. Minoxidil

Minoxidil Topical solution is one of the most effective treatments for alopecia. [6] Minoxidil is used in the treatment of both alopecia areata and androgenetic alopecia. It is classified under the group of Vasodilator medicine. Regular application of this topical solution on affected areas will revive dormant hair follicles, causing new hair to grow.

B. PRP Treatment

The Platelet-Rich- Plasma Therapy (PRP) is also administered for alopecia areata. It's slightly on the expensive side. In this therapy, the patient's own platelets are injected on the scalp areas facing hair loss or baldness. Platelets which are the main agents that heal our wounds are used to heal the affected areas of the scalp. According to scientists, injecting platelets which are rich in proteins and various growth factors can speed hair regrowth in damaged follicles.

A relatively new approach to hair loss treatment, PRP is known for showing positive results in most cases all over the world.

C. Hair Transplant

Hair Transplant is recommended as a last resort in alopecia treatment. It is a type of surgery where existing hair is removed and transplanted in the areas that have suffered hair loss. In the previously used method called FUT, strips of skin with hair follicles were removed from the patient's scalp, follicles were then extracted and transplanted. This has now become an obsolete method and is rarely used. The current method used is called FUE where the surgeon removes hair follicles one by one and plants them in the bald areas.

The FUE method is relatively painless, and the patient can return to normal work life within 2 to 3 days of the surgery. Since transplanted hair follicles are less likely to fall off, this is considered a more permanent solution to alopecia areata.

5. Natural Home Remedies To Prevent Alopecia

selection essential oils herbs flowers background

Various simple home remedies have been mentioned in Ayurvedic literature which can be easily used to treat alopecia areata.

A. Herbal Head Massage

Massage your scalp with easily available herbs such as small onion, amla, hibiscus, brahmi, methi, curry leaves. You can mix these ingredients in any carrier oil of your choice such as coconut, olive, almond, lemongrass, rosemary or tea tree oil to get desired results. Regular massage with these herbs will maintain the harmony of your Doshas, increase blood supply to your hair follicles and promote hair growth.

B. Acupuncture

The use of Acupuncture to treat various health conditions is not a new method. For people suffering from hair loss due to alopecia areata have experienced benefits from Acupuncture treatment conducted over a period of time.

In this method, tiny needles are inserted at certain points to increase blood circulation on the scalp and stimulate the hair follicles. Stimulation of the follicles prevents further hair loss.

C. Aromatherapy

Regular massages with a combination of Lavender, Rosemary and Cedarwood oil may help in hair regeneration for those diagnosed with Alopecia Areata. However, substantial research is yet to be conducted to prove the ability of these oils in treating hair loss.

6. Homeopathic Treatment To Prevent Alopecia Areata

Homeopathy to treat alopecia areata has been fairly successful. Medicines such as Phosphorus, Fluoric acid, Phosphoric acid, Lycopodium, Natrum Muriaticum, Arsenic Album have been known to effectively cure the effects of the immune system that attacks your hair follicles.

However, consult your Homeopathic doctor before deciding on any of these medicines. Your doctor will prescribe the required drugs based on your condition and symptoms.

How To Stop Alopecia Areata From Spreading?

Apart from the Ayurvedic remedies certain precautions can be taken to prevent Alopecia Areata from spreading further:

1. Nutritious Diet

Switching to a healthy diet will enable your hair follicles to absorb the required nutrition needed for hair growth. Include a healthy dose of protein in your meals. Certain Ayurvedic herbs and foods will help purify your blood and promote new hair growth. For example - Triphala, Coconut, Brahmi, Curry Leaves, Moringa, Sesame Seeds and Cumin Seeds, Ghee, Moringa, Peanuts, Almonds, Amla, and Fenugreek seeds.

2. Protection Against Trauma

Prevent any kind of hair or scalp trauma that may increase hair fall. Avoid styling your hair with chemical hair products or hair styles that pull your hair too much. Use Ayurvedic hair care remedies. Protect your scalp from overexposure to the sun.

How Is Alopecia Areata Diagnosed?

guy worried about his

Diagnosis is done on the basis of your symptoms and examination of your hair. Your doctor may conduct the Pull Test by gently tugging at the hair around the bald patches to see if your hair comes out easily. The hair is then examined for any abnormalities in structure. If the base tapers down like an exclamation mark, [6] it is a sign of alopecia areata. A biopsy of your scalp may also be done where a small layer of skin from your scalp is removed and examined. Blood tests may also be prescribed to find out the cause of your alopecia.

What Foods You Should Eat With Alopecia Areata?

healthy food clean eating selection fruit

Ayurveda mentions various foods that help in balancing your doshas and rejuvenate your hair follicles.

1. Vegetables and Fruits

Since alopecia areata is caused by an aggravation of your Pitta dosha, Ayurveda recommends the consumption of vegetables and fruits that have a cooling effect on your body. Asparagus, leafy vegetables, cucumber, snake and bottle gourds, pudina (mint), pumpkin, coriander, pineapple, pomegranate and foods that calm the Pitta dosha.

Lentils, beans, green peas and other protein enriched vegetables provide nutrition to your damaged hair follicles. Additionally beta-carotene rich foods such as carrots help boost your immune system and reverse that adverse effect it has on your hair follicles.

2. Proteins

Foods which are rich in protein such as salmon, fish, eggs, meat, nuts, almonds, yogurt, and soya bean fulfils the protein requirement of your hair follicles, thus promoting growth and regeneration.

3. Ghee

Ghee is often referred to as liquid gold in Ayurveda. [7] It calms the Vata dosha and boosts Agni that governs all metabolic activities in the body. It helps nutritions to easily reach your hair roots, resulting in healthy lustrous hair.

4. Honey

Consuming or applying honey to your hair revitalizes your dormant hair follicles. It is frequently used in curing alopecia areata. Honey acts against elvetated Pitta dosha reduces inflammation of your scalp.

Foods to Avoid If You Have Alopecia Areata

Not all foods provide nutrition and benefit your body. Depending upon your Prakriti, certain foods are better avoided to keep your doshas in balance and prevent conditions like alopecia areata from spreading further.

1. Processed Foods And Refined Carbohydrates

Since alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease, foods that irritate your immune system must be avoided. Processed foods that come packed or tinned lose their natural nutrients and harm your body’s digestive and immune system. Preservatives used in such foods often have carcinogenic effects on your body.

Refined carbohydrates that have high sugar levels produce more androgen hormones that cause hair thinning and hair loss.

2. Dairy Products

Over consumption of dairy products such as milk may irritate your immune system and cause more hair fall due to alopecia areata.

How Long Does Alopecia Areata Last?

Hair loss due to alopecia areata often grows back within 1 year. However, this varies from person to person. Depending on your symptoms and degree of hair loss, hair regrowth may begin soon after treatment. There is no such defined time period for alopecia areata.

The Last Word

Alopecia alopecia areata can cause damage to your hair follicles, resulting in hair loss. However, early diagnosis and treatment can prevent further hair loss and also regrow your lost hair. A visit to your Ayurvedic doctor to get your doshas checked will be the first step to a holistic approach to cure alopecia areata. Besides, following a nutritious diet and healthy lifestyle routines can also help in preventing your hair from major damages. At Vedix, we customize an Ayurvedic hair care regimen for your unique hair problems by evaluating your doshas.

Know Your Dosha Now

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