Stepping out of the shower and seeing the floor with your own scattered hair is like something out of a nightmare. This especially worsens when you discover bald patches on your scalp. This is usually a common disease called Alopecia – it happens both in men and women.

Alopecia is an autoimmune disease that makes your immune system mistakenly attack healthy hair cells – this causes hair loss and stoppage of hair production in certain areas on the scalp.

Learning more about a condition is the first step to effectively treating it. Here are 10 more things you should know about Alopecia:

Two main types of Alopecia

Alopecia Areata

This type of Alopecia can be temporary or permanent; it depends on the individual. It causes inflammation at the end of the hair follicles. Alopecia Areata is when specific areas on the scalp experience baldness. At times, it may also affect body hair, eyelashes, and eyebrows. This can affect men and women of different ages, and ethnicity – although it is more likely to be experienced by people in the ages of 20 to 50.

The main feature of Alopecia Areata is the bald patches with ‘exclamation mark hairs.’ These are areas with thicker hair at the top and spread out to a thinner end. Over time, this can be treated, but on rare occasions, the bald patches can grow and progress to total baldness.

What causes Alopecia Areata?

Women usually experience this in stages where hormonal imbalances occur — stages such as puberty, pregnancy, and menopause. Especially during menopause when estrogens are limited and are not able to counter testosterone. Too much testosterone in women can cause hair loss on the scalp and hair growth on the face and body.

This condition is an autoimmune disorder which sees healthy hair cells as enemies and attacks them. This may be caused by an illness, stress, or shock experienced by the individual. Alopecia Areata is common for people who suffer from vitiligo, Addison’s disease, eczema, hayfever, lupus, and thyroid disease.

Female Pattern Hair Loss (FPHL)

It’s normal to lose 50 -100 hairs a day, but in FPHL hair loss count exceeds these numbers. This occurs in women who have androgenetic alopecia. Hair thinning happens because of the shedding and reduction of hair volume. The main feature of this is a receding hairline that progresses to a bald patch on the top of the scalp.

What causes Alopecia

The cause of Alopecia mostly points out to genes. If the family has a history of autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, this may trigger Alopecia in any member of the family.

Stress can also trigger inflammation which can heighten hair loss. This is why it’s important to meditate, exercise, and have stress-relieving activities.

Your lifestyle can also play a significant role. Sugar, alcohol, and smoking can trigger more inflammation which can worsen the condition.

Symptoms

The main sign of Alopecia is hair loss. You will notice hair falling out in small patches (several centimeters or less in size) on your scalp. This may also affect your beard, eyebrows, eyelashes, and other body hair.

It can be clumps of hair on your pillow or the shower floor. Some experience extensive hair loss. Two of the severe cases of Alopecia are alopecia totalis (loss of hair on the scalp) and alopecia universalis (loss of hair on the entire body)

How long does it last

Most of the time, Alopecia isn’t permanent, and patients experience improvement in hair growth within months of treatment. Thinner and white hair strands are signs of hair regrowth. Over time, these newly grown hair strands develop to its normal color and thickness. Although Alopecia has less permanence, it is still challenging to cure. The length of recovery time depends on the immune system of the individual and the severity of the condition.

Hair thinning is different from Alopecia

A lot of women may experience hair thinning on top of the head, but this isn’t the same as Alopecia. Those with coin-shaped bald patches and clumps of hair falling out are most likely to be experiencing Alopecia.

Washing your hair won’t make it worse

Alopecia is an autoimmune disease which means the problem is happening from inside the body. It’s your immune system that attacks healthy hair cells which causes hair loss. This common myth of washing and shampooing your hair can affect hair loss, it a total myth. This is why it’s still okay to wash your hair as normal as usual. This won’t worsen your condition.

It isn’t permanent

Alopecia doesn’t harm your hair’s ability to regrow, unlike natural baldness and age-related hair loss. This condition causes the immune system to attack healthy hair follicles mistakenly. When this happens, immune cells surround the hair follicles like a swarm of bees and stop them from producing. This is why Alopecia can be treated, and once your immune system is better, hair usually grows back again.

But in rare cases, about 5%-10% of people who experience Alopecia suffered from permanent hair loss. This is usually for cases like alopecia universalis and alopecia totalis.

Natural Treatments

Minoxidil is known to slow down hair loss and result in hair growth over time. It is topically applied to the areas of hair loss. Minoxidil is more effective when combined with another treatment for severe hair loss.

Probiotics help treat autoimmune conditions, including alopecia. This supplement can be used to improve the immune system so your body won’t destroy healthy cells, such as hair cells. Include Probiotic foods in your diets such as yogurt, kombucha, and apple cider vinegar.

Ginseng helps combat Alopecia by reducing any inflammation and boosting the immune system. Koren Red Ginseng, in particular, is a form of Panax Ginseng that helps promote hair growth in people who suffer from Alopecia.

Acupuncture helps reduce T1 cells that attack hair follicles and cause hair loss. This natural treatment stimulates hair follicles, increase blood circulation, and reduces inflammation.

Medical Treatments

If there are still no signs of hair regrowth, it is better to have yourself consulted. An experienced and reliable hair loss doctor can make a complete evaluation of your condition and determine the best treatments for you. This could be topical medications or medical procedures.

Some treatments have no guarantee for effectiveness, and sometimes it takes months before seeing results, this is why some people opt instead to try hair replacement or hair transplant.

Hair loss treatments such as Regenera Activa, FUE Hair Transplants, and Low-Level Laser Therapy are known to effectively treat hair loss caused by Alopecia.

Learn more about these hair loss treatments here.

It may come back

Some people experience Alopecia in a single episode and may never come back. But for some, this condition can and does recur. It usually comes back to individuals who experience Alopecia since their childhood. It also reappears to people who had a severe level of Alopecia; who suffered eczema; if body hair, eyelashes, and eyebrows are affected too; and if it’s in the family genes.

Alopecia is an unpredictable disease. It also unclear what causes it to recur or to burn out on its own. Relapses are possible, but some never return. What’s for sure is, treating Alopecia is possible with natural and medical treatments. Consulting with a hair loss expert is best to find out which treatments will work best for you.