Alopecia areata is a type of hair loss that causes your hair to fall out due to the immune system attacking your hair follicles. Alopecia symptoms are small round bald patches that expose smooth peach-coloured areas of the scalp about the size of ten pence pieces.
Sometimes hair will grow back but the cycle of hair loss and regrowth can often repeat itself. However, there are some positive steps you can take to help gain control of this condition. Understanding how it can impact your day to day life is the first step…
Things to avoid when you have alopecia areata
When you lose hair on your scalp you need to protect your skin from the elements. During hot weather, you can apply sunscreen or wear a light scarf or hat as this reduces the risk of sunburn and skin cancer. As the weather gets colder keep areas warm with a hat or scarf.
Try to keep stress levels down as stress can be linked to your hair loss and managing this could be key to returning to a healthy rate of hair growth. Consider yoga, meditation and mindfulness to help reduce cycles of hair loss.
Bear in mind that some hairstyling techniques and products can be harsh on your hair resulting in additional damage and more hair loss.
An elimination diet can guide you as to which foods to avoid that may trigger autoimmune symptoms and help control inflammation. These include eggs, coffee, alcohol, sugar, and food additives to name just a few. You can put excluded foods back into your diet one at a time to determine which are the triggers.
Things to do when you have alopecia areata
Adding probiotics to your diet can reduce inflammation and prevent hair loss from worsening. Micronutrients that include vitamins and minerals play an important part within the immune system, and a diet rich in protein and healthy fats reduce oxidative stress. You can also take the right supplements to ensure you’re getting the key nutrients to help prevent hair loss. Tumeric, iron, Vitamin D and biotin all promote hair health. Ask your GP to refer you to a specialist who has expertise in managing alopecia areata. A qualified and experienced dermatologist will find the best hair treatments to suit you and provide you with self-care tips. Remember to mention any changes in your nails as this can also be an additional related factor and can be treated to prevent any discomfort.
You should also get a full health check to ensure that there aren’t any underlying issues such as thyroid disease, but generally, if you’re experiencing alopecia areata you are normally very healthy.
Connect with other people who have alopecia areata through the National Alopecia Areata Foundation. This association was established specifically to help people affected by this condition. Patient support groups also give you the opportunity to talk about your condition and realise that you’re not alone. Help is also available if you’re feeling alone, sad, or anxious. The Alopecia Areata emotional wellness website has resources that you can use.