Patchy hair loss treatment tips will examine the causes and effective treatment principles of alopecia areata. Patchy hair loss or alopecia areata is
Patchy hair loss treatment tips will examine the causes and effective treatment principles of alopecia areata.
Patchy hair loss or alopecia areata is a localized, recurrent, patchy, non scarring type of hair loss, characterized by the presence of one or more round or oval hairless patches. The affected skin appears normal and smooth, unlike the fungal infections, where there is crusting of the skin and uneven breaking of hairs. On the periphery of the patches, a few short hairs, which taper and loss pigment as they approach the skin, may be seen. These are called “exclamation mark” hairs due to their resemblance to the mark.
Alopecia areata or patchy hair loss usually affects the scalp. Other hair bearing areas, especially the beard are also affected. Any age can be affected in alopecia areata; though the common age group is 15-30. The youngest alopecia areata patient I have seen was a 2 year old girl.
Causes of Alopecia Areata.
A review of the main causes of patchy hair loss
There are many hypothesis regarding the causation of patchy hair loss. Following are the main theories regarding cause of alopecia areata:
- Autoimmune theory: Alopecia areata is thought to be an autoimmune disease where the body produces antibodies (‘auto’antibodies) against the hair germinal cells and cause their destruction in localized areas.
- Direct pressure: Many patients get patchy hair loss following direct pressure on hair bearing areas.
- Mobile phones and alopecia areata: Another complication of the modern device! Possibly the radio waves emitted by the mobile phone damaged the hair follicles and triggered an autoimmune inflammatory reaction in the area causing patchy hair loss.
- Caries tooth: This is a very important factor usually ignored by patients and their doctors alike.
- Stress: Most patients who come with recurrent episodes of alopecia areata also report a preceding period of intense stress in their life. How the stress causes hair loss only in localized patches, is however, not known. Hypothetically the nerve supply and altered immune responses in stress may be playing a role in the causation of alopecia areata.
Types of Alopecia Areata
Depending upon the area of involvement, patchy hair loss is divided into different types:
Depending upon the extend of involvement, alopecia areata is divided into:
- Localized alopecia areata
- Alopecia totalis: involve the whole scalp, eyebrows, beard.
- Alopecia Universalis: Total loss of body hair.
At times, alopecia areata can be quite stubborn in its response to treatment. Many patients continue to get recurrences despite the therapeutic interventions.
This definitely calls for further investigations to rule out or confirm causes like unmanaged stress, direct pressure or untreated caries teeth.
Patchy Hair Loss Treatment Tips: Tip #1
Wait and Watch!
In many cases hair growth occurs spontaneously in a few months without any medical treatment. A wait and watch approach is indeed a non expensive, safer alternative for a limited number of patients.
But if the patches are getting wider and the hair pulling test is positive, it is prudent to consult your dermatologist.
Hair pulling test: Try pulling out the hairs at the periphery of the patches. If they come out very easily without any resistance, the test is positive. Also these hairs will look like “exclamation marks” with loss of pigment and thinning just above the hair roots.
Patchy Hair Loss Treatment Tips. Tip#2
No worries over white hairs.
The first hair re-growth after treatment or spontaneous re-growth in alopecia areata will show fine, non pigmented or grey hairs. There is no need to worry as normal, pigmented hair will come out sooner or later.
Patchy Hair Loss Treatment Tips. Tip#3
Do not apply irritants on your own!
Do not apply contact irritants from “helpful” friendly advices or home remedy tips!
This may cause further worsening of the lesions and sometimes even cause permanent scarring if the irritant reaction is severe.
It is to be noted that mild counter irritant effect does actually produce hair growth in some patients of alopecia areata. Possibly new inflammatory cells attracted to the area may be flushing out the auto antibodies and releasing the hair roots from their inhibitory effects.
Patchy Hair Loss Treatment Tips. Tip#4
Seek professional help first.
Intradermal injection with corticosteroids is a very effective treatment for alopecia areata.
This procedure should only be done by an experienced dermatologist as proper dilution, quantity and depth are necessary to produce optimum results.
I have come across quite a number of patients scarred for life with skin atrophy and leucoderma following undiluted steroid injections given by pharmacists and non dermatologists. This is very unfortunate and should be avoided by all means.
Patchy Hair Loss Treatment Tips. Tip#5
Do not use OTC steroid creams.
Application of topical steroids should be done only
Hair loss remedies at low pricesunder medical supervision. Super potent steroids applied on face can cause permanent damage to the facial skin.
They could cause thinning of the skin, acneiform eruptions, flare up of acne rosacea, striaeetc if used improperly.
Patchy Hair Loss Treatment Tips. Tip#6
Check your mouth!
If you are getting new patches of hair loss despite treatment, look for hidden infections in the teeth. Get a dental consultation.
Teeth and gum infection are known to produce recurrent patchy hair loss.
Patchy Hair Loss Treatment Tips. Tip#7
Avoid direct pressure.
As mentioned above, direct pressure can cause alopecia areata.
Review whether you are causing undue pressure on the area with tight fitting helmets or scarves, improper shaving techniques etc.
Also correct your posture while sleeping or watching TV.
Patchy Hair Loss Treatment Tips. Tip#8
Avoid prolonged mobile phone use.
Use hands free sets or blue tooth for your cell phones.
This will reduce the damaging effects of the radio waves emitted by the sets.
Patchy Hair Loss Treatment Tips. Tip#9
Manage your Stress!
Take a stress test. If your stress level is high, learn how to manage the stress.
A sense of perceived loss of affection from the near and dear may be the underlying problem in the causation of patchy loss of hair.
I have seen young children of 2-5 years age getting alopecia areata within a few months after their younger siblings are born. It is clearly the imagined or real loss of attention and affection from the parents that is the culprit in such cases. Parents have to take extra care to convey the message that the newcomer in no way interferes with their affection for the elder one.
Patchy Hair Loss Treatment Tips. Tip#10
Once the hair loss has stopped and new patches stop appearing, you can boost the hair growth with medications like minoxidil and vitamin supplements.
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This will hasten the growth and also provide additional nourishment for the newly sprouting hair roots.