Alopecia areata is a common autoimmune disorder that often results in unpredictable hair loss usually before the age of 30. The disease develops when the body attacks its own hair follicles, causing hair loss anywhere on the body. Hair loss tends to be unpredictable, and it is different for everyone.
Some people lose it only in a few patches, or their hair may thin. Others lose a full head of hair or bodily hair. Sometimes, hair grows back but falls out again, and in others, their hair grows back for good.
It affects 147 million people worldwide and can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, or race. Over 70% of men and 50% of women over the age of 80 are affected by this disease. The prevalence is lower in Chinese, Asian, and Black people than in White people.
The hair growth cycle goes like this:
Anagen: A long (2- to 6-year) growing phase
Catagen: A brief (3-week) transitional apoptotic phase
Telogen: A short (2- to 3-month) resting phase
At the end of the resting phase, when the hair falls out, about 50 to 100 scalp hairs fall out each day. In one type of alopecia, Telogen effluvium, significantly more than 100 hairs/day go into the resting phase. When a new hair starts growing in the follicle, the cycle starts from the beginning. Anagen effluvium is another form of alopecia, when there is a disruption to the growing phase, causing abnormal loss of anagen hairs.
There is no known reason yet why alopecia occurs, but it seems that genetics are involved. One in five people with the disease has a family member who has also developed it. It is also more common in people with autoimmune diseases characterised by hypoallergenic tendencies. The view that alopecia areata is caused by stress is a common misconception. Extreme cases of stress could potentially trigger the condition, but this may be a combination of stress and a genetic cause.
How Can We Help?
Alopecia does not make people sick, nor is it contagious. Nonetheless, it can be difficult to adapt to emotionally. Dermatologists are conducting much of the research into a treatment for alopecia. Currently, there is no cure however, there are some forms of treatment that doctors can prescribe to help the speed of hair growth.
The most common treatment is the use of Corticosteroids. There are powerful anti-inflammatory drugs which suppress the immune system. These can be taken orally, administered through injections, or applied directly to the skin with topical ointment. Although these may aid the re-growth of hair, they cannot prevent new bald patches from being formed. Another downside is that it may take a long time for them to work, and these medicines have very different amounts of success.
At Escala Beauty, we have created a hair oil which has had incredible effects on our client who suffers from alopecia. This hair oil has proved most incredible for hair regrowth. It contains a blend of essential oils which are known to have benefits for strengthening and thickening the hair. For example, one product used is Wheat Germ oil. This contains many fatty acids and vitamin E which work together to strengthen the hair roots and follicles and encourage elasticity of each strand.
Cedarwood oil is what enhances growth. It balances oil production in the glands and increases circulation providing perfect growing conditions for your hair. Sweet Almond oil is another component that makes your hair smoother to touch. It allows you to easily comb through your hair, avoiding knots and simultaneously pulling out unnecessary amounts of hair.
Another element in our new hair oil is rosemary extracts. This aids a dry or itchy scalp with its anti-inflammatory properties. This is vital in preventing premature dandruff and promoting nerve growth. Lavender is also used for not only its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties but also for its calming effect and beautiful scent. Finally, one of the most important essential oils in our blend is thyme. It actively stimulates the scalp which encourages growth and prevents future hair loss.
To reduce the effects of alopecia, if exposed to the sun people with the disorder should:
- Wear sunscreen
- Protect the eyes with sunglasses
- Use headwear such as hats, wigs, and scarves
- Use ointment inside the nose to protect against organisms that are normally confined by nostril hair.