alopecia

Alopecia Areata (Pattern Baldness)

Alopecia Areata (pattern baldness) is an autoimmune skin disorder where the white blood cells attack the hair follicle causing hair loss.  The women I have known who have suffered from this disorder say it is one of the most emotionally destructive thing they have ever gone through.  I can only imagine – I’d be in the fetal position crying in the corner of my bathroom nightly.  My heart goes out to any one who has ever lost a significant amount of hair.  I have ginormous amounts of respect for those women this has happen to, who just zip on down to the wig shop with a wink and a shoulder shrug.  They are strong like bull.

Alopecia results in round patches of hair loss.  Because the hair follicle remains alive, the hair can grow back and fall out again at any time, depending on the cycle of the autoimmune disorder.  Whenever the follicle receives a signal to grow hair – great.  And when the follicle receives a signal to stop growing – damn it all to hell.

Unfortunately, there are no sure-fire treatments that work in ALL cases.  There are a few things that are helping some people:

1- Cortisone shots –  Small injections in and around the hairless patch once a month until the swelling around the follicle has gone down.  Some have reported that this treatment has caused a bit of a depression of the area.  The depression is not permanent and will fill back in once treatment has stopped.

2- Topical Minoxidil – 5% solution applied twice a day may regrow hair.  If scalp hair does grow back completely, treatment can be stopped.

3- Decrease the amount of stress.   Dr. Hordinski of the New York Times online says:

Stress has been cited frequently as a factor in autoimmune diseases, including alopecia areata. Yet experimental evidence to decisively link stress and alopecia has been lacking.

It is easy to link alopecia with stress, as many but not all patients associate stressful events with the development of hair loss. Moreover, there are a lot of nerves in and around hair follicles. The actions of these nerves, as well as various nervous system products called neuropeptides, could affect the hair growth cycle.

 

 So, if you can, try to relax. Yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, long walks, hitting a punching bag…. what ever it takes.
I found this very interesting blog post from an acupuncturist here.  She claims to have brought back the hair in the bald patches within months – WOW!
If you or anyone you know suffers from Alopecia, go to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation at naaf.org
and here is a wonderful video from NAAF: