1. Mental and Emotional stress - this is considered as one of the most likely triggers for the development of Alopecia areata. Psychological stress can give rise to an underlying auto-immune disorder which is dormant in the body. 2. Shock or sudden extreme stress - the loss of a near or dear one, divorce, accident are considered as sudden extreme stress. In a number of cases it has been observed that alopecia areata has occurred after such an episode. 3. Injury to the skin - people who are susceptible to developing alopecia areata will have loss of hair wherever she or he gets a cut, scrape or abrasion. 4. Physical stress - it has been observed that some people develop this hair disorder after suffering from another major illness like fever, viral infection, cancer, radiation etc… Also a physical injury like a blow to the head can trigger the hair loss. 5. Allergies - if you are genetically prone to develop allergic conditions like asthma, urticaria, eczema, etc… then you are more susceptible to developing alopecia areata which is more extensive and prolonged in nature. 6. Chemicals - some people believe that certain chemicals like pesticides have the potential to trigger Alopecia. 7. Viral and bacterial infections - there are certain viral infections of the hair follicles that can give rise to loss of hair. However these theories are doubtful but what is possible is that these virus or bacteria stimulate the person's own immunity giving rise to inappropriate reactions against the hair cells. 8. Pregnancy and hormones - it has been observed that hormonal fluctuations do affect the course of Alopecia areata. Puberty and menopause are two very periods for a female. Alopecia could be triggered during these periods. Also it has been noticed that a woman suffering from alopecia can go into remission or have regrowth of hair during pregnancy. 9. Genetics - no one can prove for a certainty that Alopecia areata is a genetically linked disorder but there is a higher incidence of it within some families. What the research groups have concluded is that the individual is more susceptible to develop Alopecia if it is present within the family but an environmental trigger is required.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF ALOPECIA AREATA
Alopecia Areata has many different presentations but loss of hair is the main problem. The pattern of hair loss varies in each case. Some people suffer from a single circular patch while others have a more diffuse form where there are no distinct patches and the hair loss is all over.
Some people have loss of hair in a serpent fashion known as Ophiasis. In this case the person has loss of hair all around the margins. Alopecia totalis indicates complete loss of hair on the scalp. Here the surface of the scalp becomes very smooth.
Alopecia universalis means a complete loss of hair all over the body. This is a very severe form where the person loses all eyelashes, eyebrows, pubic hair, underarm hair and hair from other parts of the body.
- The typical patch of alopecia areata is usually round or oval, and is completely bald and smooth.
- “Exclamation-mark” hairs may be seen at the margin of the patch.
- Some broken, short hairs that taper at the base.
- Nail involvement found most commonly seen in patients with severe forms of alopecia areata.
- Pitting is the most common finding. Several other abnormalities have
- been reported (e.g., trachyonychia, Beau lines, onychorrhexis, onychomadesis, koilonychia, leukonychia, red lunulae).
- Fingernails predominantly are affected.
Alopecia Types and Definitions
- Alopecia Areata-Patch like Hair falling
- Alopecia Partialis-Hair falling in one half side of the scalp or in limbs or in face.
- Alopecia totalis-complete falling of hairs in scalp (not baldness)
- Alopecia Universalis-complete loss of hair all over the hair (complete hair falling in scalp, face, arm pit, pubic, and limbs)
Alopecia areata can be classified according to its pattern.
- Patchy alopecia areata -Hair loss most often is localized and patchy
- Ophiasis pattern of alopecia areata –A reticular
pattern occurs when hair loss is more extensive and the
patches coalesce. An ophiasis pattern occurs when the hair losses is
localized to the sides and lower back of the scalp
- Sisaipho pattern of alopecia areata –Conversely, sisaipho (ophiasis spelled backwards) pattern occurs when hair loss spares the sides and back of the head
- Alopecia totalis-Alopecia totalis occurs with 100% hair loss on the scalp
- Alopecia universalis-Alopecia universalis occurs with complete loss of hair on all hair-bearing areas.
- Diffuse alopecia areata –Alopecia areata usually is focal; however, it can be diffuse, thereby mimicking Telogen effluvium (TE) or the type of androgenetic alopecia seen in women
Conventional Treatment of Alopecia Areata There are several different forms of treatment available for this problem. However very few have found to be effective and all have their set of side-effects. Some physicians even give their patients steroid injections in the scalp, which is very dangerous especially for children. Alopecia Areata by itself is not a serious disorder but it is more a cosmetic problem which can damage a person.
Some people do have a spontaneous re-growth without any medication but this is quite rare. If we consider the auto-immune theory as being right then we need to treat the individual's own immunity taking the trigger factors into consideration. This is exactly how we treat Alopecia Areata in Homoeopathy with good results. We take the presentation or pattern of hair loss into account along with the other mental and physical symptoms. We try to stimulate the patient's own hair cells to re-grow.
There are several different treatment options for alopecia areata. The most common is observation. Another option is applying a strong topical steroid such as Diprolene or Temovate to the patch. It may take several months for the hair to grow back using this method. Another common therapeutic option is injection of a steroid, such as Celestone into the involved scalp skin. Initial regrowth of hair can be seen in 4-8 weeks and treatments are repeated every 4-6 weeks. The main side effect from any steroid use is thinning of the skin. Minoxidil has been used to promote hair growth and has shown cosmetically acceptable results in 30% of cases. Minoxidil does not stop the disease process so stopping applications after hair has started to grow back may cause the hair to fall out again.
This is another very useful remedy for treating Alopecia where the symptoms are present. Here the loss of hair could be triggered by stress especially mental stress. Here the patient will say that he feels weak mentally and cannot think or remember anything.
The hair may turn prematurely gray and become thin. The hair falls out in patches especially after some emotional grief or sorrow.
Even the hair from the beard falls out. Here the patient feel extremely listless and weak especially after loss of fluids or emotions. Only warmth makes him feel better
This is a very popular remedy especially used in cases of children and the aged. Here the child suffers from hair fall which creates areas of baldness. A Baryta carb child's constitution is fat, with delayed learning to walk and talk, have difficulty in concentrating.
There maybe moist crust formation on the scalp with falling of hair. The child may also suffer from swollen glands along with this problem. These children like to be alone and dislike company. They are very shy
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