Alopecia areata is a disease that causes hair to fall out in small patches. It develops when the hair follicles are attacked by the immune system resulting in hair loss. Sudden hair loss can occur on various parts of the body including the scalp. Alopecia areata rarely results in complete hair loss but it may prevent hair from growing back. If hair grows back, it can still fall out again. The extent of the hair loss or regrowth varies from one person to the other.
When Does Alopecia Areata Start?
Alopecia Areata can start at any age but most of the cases first develop in children and teenagers. Hair loss occurs before the person reaches age 21 in about 50 percent of Alopecia Areata cases. The condition is generally milder if it first develops at an older age.
How Common Is Alopecia Areata?
Alopecia Areata affects both males and females in equal measure. It is quite a common conditions and affects approximately 2 percent of the American population, which is about 6.5 million people. In the United Kingdom, it is estimated that it affects 15 in every 10,000 people.
How Long Does Alopecia Areata Last?
Alopecia Areata cases are usually not permanent and patients do experience regrowth within months after the initial encounter. The hair regrowth is characterized by thinner, finer, and white hair strands. However, the hair develops its normal thickness and color with time and it eventually resembles the rest of the hair.
Alopecia Areata might have less permanence than other types of Alopecia but it is still quite hard to cure. People that suffer from the condition will hardly get rid of the problem once hair has regrown after the initial encounter. The length of time that the condition lasts depends on the person’s immune system and the severity of the problem.
How to Treat Alopecia Areata Naturally
Alopecia Areata has no known cure but it can be treated. Treatment can help the hair grow back faster or even stop future hair loss. Here are the top natural treatments for the condition.
1. Onion Juice
Onion juice applied to parts of the body or head affected by the condition can help promote hair growth according to a study published in 2002 in the Journal of Dermatology. In an experiment that involved 38 Alopecia Areata patients, those that used onion-juice based treatment two times a day for 2 months had considerably more hair growth when compared to those that used a placebo over a similar period.
2. Korean Red Ginseng
Korean Red Ginseng is a form of Panax Ginseng and has shown great promise when it comes to treating Alopecia Areata. According to a study published in 2012 in the Journal of Ginseng Research, it was observed that Korean Red Ginseng may help promote hair growth in people suffering from Alopecia Areata.
3. Stress Management
Stress can play a critical role in triggering Alopecia Areata episodes according to a study published in 2009 in the Journal of Dermatology. While it is possible that practicing stress management techniques may offer some level of protection against Alopecia Areata episodes, there currently are no studies testing the use of such techniques to manage the condition.
According to a study published in 2013 in Acupuncture in Medicine, tests performed on mice established that electro-acupuncture can inhibit certain changes related to alopecia in skin cells. Electro-acupuncture refers to a form of acupuncture where needles are attached to a device the produces continuous electric impulses then placed at specific points on the body of the patient.
A study published in 1998 in Archives of Dermatology that involved an aromatherapy treatment using a blend of essential oils including cedarwood, lavender, rosemary, and thyme revealed that they can aid the treatment of Alopecia Areata.
The study involved two groups of people suffering from the condition. The first group comprised of 43 people whose scalps were massaged with a combination of the essential oils with grapeseed oil and jojoba oil as the carrier oils every day for 7 months. The second group comprised of 41 people that massaged only grapeseed oil and jojoba oil into their scalp each day for a similar period.
At the end of the study, 19 people in the aromatherapy group experienced some improvement in their condition while just 6 people in the second group showed any improvement.
Hypnosis may be beneficial for people suffering from Alopecia Areata according to several small studies. The studies include a study published in 2008 in the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis involving 28 participants suffering from Alopecia Areata that received hypnotherapy.
12 participants out of the 21 that completed the study experienced considerable hair growth after undergoing hypnosis. All the participants in the study also exhibited a significant reduction in depression and anxiety after undergoing hypnosis.
A study published in 2011 in a Swedish journal titled Acta Dermato-Venereologica also found that hypnotherapy can be beneficial for those suffering from Alopecia Areata. The study involved 21 participants with the condition that received 10 hypnotherapy sessions over a 6-month period. At the end of the study, participants showed improvement in various areas indicating psychological wellbeing including depression and anxiety.
Are the Treatments Effective?
The effectiveness of the treatments discussed here will vary from one person to the next. Some people don’t actually require treatment since hair regrowth happens on its own. Other people never see improvement even after trying multiple treatment options. It is advisable to try several treatments to see a difference. However, you must never forget that regrowth may just be temporary. Hair can grow back and then fall out again.
The Bottom Line
Alopecia Areata can be quite emotionally challenging especially if it affects the whole scalp. People suffering from the condition may become depressed or feel isolated. However, this need not be the case. If you are suffering from the condition, you should try the treatment options discussed here and even if they fail to work you now know that you are not alone. If you try treatments but they are not effective and you feel overwhelmed, you can join a support group where you can share your experience.