It can be temporary or permanent and can be the result of hormonal changes, medical conditions, genetics, lifestyle, environmental factors, psychological conditions, and as a normal part of ageing.
Alopecia is an autoimmune disease whereby the body’s immune system attacks hair follicles, resulting in patchy hair loss of the scalp. When it also results in loss of eyebrows or eyelashes it’s known as alopeciaareata and when there’s complete hair loss which includes the scalp and the whole body it’s known asalopecia universalis.
There is currently no cure for alopecia, only treatments
According to the Australian Alopecia Areata Foundation, it is estimated that two per cent of the population will be affected by the condition at some point in their lifetime.
Currently, Alopecia New Zealand is in the process of creating a database of people living with alopecia. Certified trichologist Dr Padmaja Redekar, owner of Hairmantra Hair and Scalp Clinic, New Zealand, says prevention is always better than treatment, so make sure you’re following a healthy diet preferably rich in iron, protein, vegetables, and minerals, as well as staying hydrated.
“Also, because balanced emotions keep hair balanced, ensure you take time out to eradicate stress from your life by doing activities like yoga, walking, listening to music or talking to a friend can be very helpful,” Dr Redekar says.
“Importantly, find alternatives to the contraceptive pill, as this causes a lot of scalp issues due to its effects on the hormones, which may even show up during pre-menopause and right into menopause.”
If you experience hair loss, Dr Redekar suggests visiting a dermatologist or a trichologist as soon as possible for a diagnosis, so you can determine if hair regrowth is possible and potentially begin treatment.
“If the diagnosis determines that you have non-scarring, that means the follicles are alive and regrowth is possible, but if the diagnosis is scarring that indicates that the follicles are dead and regrowth isn’t possible. In this instance your options include hair transplants, going bald or wearing a wig.”
Where regrowth is possible, treatments include:
- Low-level laser therapy which activates the follicles by providing them with oxygen, so they return to their original state and regrowth begins.
- Plant-based solutions which help change the cellular structure around the follicles for healthier follicles and regrowth.
- Platelet-rich plasma therapy where your own blood is taken and injected into your scalp to generate cellular activity and promote hair regrowth.