Identifying Alopecia and Its Symptoms

Identifying Alopecia and Its Symptoms

One’s crowning glory is their pride and joy. When Jada Pinkett Smith, wife of Will Smith, opened up to the world about her struggles with autoimmune disorder alopecia, the world paid attention to this skin condition. Alopecia is a type of hair loss disorder that can develop anywhere on the body, including the scalp. The cause of this condition is varied, from genes, hormonal changes, medical conditions to being a normal part of ageing. While it can happen to anyone, it’s more common among men. Alopecia can affect self-esteem, with some allowing the hair loss to run its course while others cover it up with wigs, hats and many more. It’s best to consult with your physician before pursuing treatment.

Symptoms

Hair loss can manifest differently according to the person and its cause. It can develop gradually or appear suddenly across the scalp and body.

Signs and symptoms of hair loss to look out for include:

  • Gradual thinning on top of head. This is probably the most prevalent form of hair loss, which comes as part of ageing. In men, their hair starts receding at the hairline on the forehead while for women, it’s the broadening of their hair parting. Meanwhile, in older women, the common hair loss pattern is a receding hairline (frontal fibrosing alopecia).
  • Circular or patchy bald spots. If you begin to notice patchy bald spots on your scalp, beard or eyebrow, this may very well be an indication of alopecia. Besides that, you might also experience itchy and painful skin before hair fall.
  • Sudden loosening of hair. Sometimes, a traumatic shock be it physical or emotional can cause the hair follicles to loosen. When combing, gently tugging or washing your hair, a handful of hair may come out. Sudden loosening of hair usually leads to thinning but is only temporary.
  • Full-body hair loss. Loss of hair all over your body can be caused by medical conditions and treatments such as cancer, but the silver lining is that your hair usually grows back.
  • Patches of scaling that spread over the scalp. Observe your scalp for patches of scaling that spread, together with broken hair, redness, swelling and at times, oozing, because this is a telltale sign of a ringworm.

Causes

It’s natural for us to lose approximately 50 to 100 strands a day but it isn’t discernible because at the same time, new hair growth is taking place. Hair loss happens when new hair doesn’t replace ones that have fallen. Hair loss is typically related to one or more of the following factors:

  • Genes (hereditary). Hereditary hair loss which happens with ageing, and the most common cause is named androgenic alopecia — male-pattern baldness and female-pattern baldness. The development of hair loss occurs gradually and in predictable patterns, from a receding hairline and bald spots in men to hair thinning at the crown of the scalp in women.
  • Hormonal changes and medical conditions. Permanent or temporary hair loss can be attributed to a variety of conditions which include hormonal changes due to pregnancy, childbirth, menopause and thyroid problems. In addition, Alopecia Areata, a medical autoimmune disorder is related to patchy hair loss, scalp infections such as ringworm and a hair-pulling disorder called trichotillomania.
  • Medications and supplements. At times, losing hair strands is a side effect of consuming certain drugs such as that to treat cancer, arthritis, depression, heart problems, gout and high blood pressure.
  • Radiation therapy to the head. When the scalp and hair follicles are exposed to radiation therapy, one’s hair may not regrow back to its former glory.
  • A stressful event. It may come as a surprise for many to learn, but months after a physical and emotional shock, many might experience general thinning of hair. Don’t fear, this type of hair loss is temporary.
  • Hairstyles and treatments. Too much of something is never a good thing. In this regard, excessive hairstyling or hairstyles that snatched your hair so tight, like pigtails or cornrows, can lead to traction alopecia (a variation of alopecia). Treatments that include hot-oil and permanents can also be the cause of hair loss. Be wary because if there’s scarring, hair loss could be permanent.

Natural Tips to Promote Hair Growth:

Massage

Using oils and masks to massage the scalp stimulates it and could improve the thickness of hair. The motion of stretching during the massage triggers the dermal papilla cells which are responsible for hair growth, thickness and the shedding and regrowth cycle. Moreover, massaging, as with any part of the body, improves blood flow and health of the scalp. A 2019 study showed that hair growth increased blood flow and the health of the scalp, which is achieved by massaging your scalp everyday. It relieves stress and tension, which is an added bonus if these are the cause of your hair loss. Massage your scalp with your fingertips, never with the fingernails and move in circles across the scalp, all the while applying light to medium pressure. There’s no standard duration that you’ve to perform a head massage, scalp massages were given for 4 minutes, everyday, for a period of 24 weeks in the former 2019 study.

Aloe vera

While TikTok has recently showcased what aloe vera can do for your hair, its usage to treat hair loss goes way back. Known for its soothing properties, this intriguing plant can calm irritated scalp and condition hair. If you experience flakes of dandruff from your scalp, employ this remedy and unblock hair follicles that may be blocked by excess oil. Apply pure aloe vera gel onto your scalp and hair a few times per week. If it is hard to come by, you can opt for shampoos and conditioners with aloe vera.

Virgin Coconut oil

Lauric acid, a fatty acid component in coconut oil, is able to penetrate deep inside the hair shaft and decrease the protein loss from hair. It can be used pre- or post-hair wash, depending on your hair type. If your hair falls under the oily category, you use coconut oil as a leave-in treatment for a couple of hours or overnight before you wash it. Use coconut oil to massage it into your scalp and all of your hair as it can also lubricate the hair shaft and prevent breakage. This is evident in a study that discovered applying coconut oil to the scalp enriches the scalp’s microbiome, making it and hair follicles healthier.

Fish oil

Fish oil is rich in omega fatty acids which are rich in nutrients and proteins that can aid in repairing and improving your hair from the inside. Pair an omega supplement along with antioxidants to further improve hair density and diameter as well as decrease hair loss. Another function of omega fatty acids is to assist cells to work properly and boost immunity, which is healthful in its entirety. As aforementioned, be sure to follow the manufacturer's recommended dosage and consult with a professional before adding any new supplements to your diet.

Ginseng

Taking care of your body internally can reflect externally. To stimulate hair follicles and growth, consume supplements such as ginseng. The active ingredients found in ginseng, called Ginsenosides are thought to be responsible for the positive effects on hair. Always consult with a professional, check for possible adverse effects and follow directions when taking supplements.

Rosemary oil

Besides being used to flavour food, rosemary oil is a popular essential oil that promotes hair growth, reduces hair loss and can be utilised to treat androgenetic alopecia. Create your own concoction by mixing a few drops of rosemary essential oil to a carrier oil like argan or jojoba oil and massage it into hair and scalp before shampoo. Do this a few times a week to reap the best benefits. Alternatively, you can also mix a few drops of this oil into your shampoo and conditioner on the daily. Be sure not to apply any essential oils directly into the skin and instead mix them with a carrier oil or shampoo.