People lose hair every day – up to one hundred strands – without an underlying medical cause or concern. But if you start to notice that you have more severe hair loss, there are several different causes that could be the culprit. One condition, called alopecia areata, affects approximately 4.7 million men and women in the United States.
This autoimmune disorder causes your immune system to attack or reject your hair follicles, resulting in hairless patches or total hair loss. Some research indicates the disorder could be triggered or worsened by stress. So here are some do’s and dont’s if you have been diagnosed with alopecia areata, alopecia totalis, or alopecia universalis.
The top 3 “do’s” if you have alopecia:
- Recognize and reduce causes of stress. While this might seem like a routine addition to any treatment recommendations, it is especially true in the case of alopecia. Research increasingly suggests that stress can trigger the autoimmune condition if you are susceptible to it, and reducing that stress is the best way to minimize the effects. Professionals suggest targeting stressors both at home and at work, so the best treatment includes avoiding long hours and keeping work-related problems separate from your home life. In turn, it is also suggested that you discuss and mitigate stress at home and sleep your recommended number of hours. Most Americans are chronically sleep-deprived, and this can add to physical stress.
- Make sure you are eating healthy. Physical well-being is tied to nutrition and diet, but hair growth specifically requires essential nutrients for healthy and consistent growth. These include Omega 3 fatty acids, which you can find in avocado, pumpkin seeds and walnuts, and oily fish. Your hair also needs zinc, which you can find in eggs and beef, as well as vitamin C from citrus and brightly colored vegetables. These nutrients are crucial for the production of strong, healthy hair, and including them in your diet can also help your overall health and stress levels.
- Get your hair trimmed. Even though it may be tempting to let your hair grow longer than usual in order to offset thinning hair, this could just increase stress on your hair by increasing the damage at both ends. Make sure you keep your hair trimmed to prevent split ends and to trigger healthy regrowth.
The top “don’ts” if you have alopecia
The list of suggested ‘dont’s’ when you have alopecia is much longer, mostly because there is an array of specific behaviors that can stress or weaken your hair.
- Don’t heat up your hair. This includes straightening your hair, using a blow dryer, and curling your hair with a curling iron. Heat can damage even otherwise healthy hair and cause dehydration, damage to the hair shaft, and scalp dryness. If you do have to heat your hair, be sure to precede and follow it up with heat protection and hair soothing products to minimize damage.
- Don’t wash your hair too often. Washing your hair can irritate the scalp and dry out hair. Reduce the number of times you wash your hair each week to once or twice, and be sure to use gentle cleaning products that don’t use harsh chemicals.
- Don’t brush your hair when it’s wet and don’t use a sharp comb. Instead, gently brush hair when it’s dry and use as little force as possible when you find a snag. The teeth of sharp combs can irritate your skin and damage the follicles so use a fiber brush or one without pointed bristles.
- Don’t tie back your hair. Elastic hair bands pull on your hair and can put additional stress on brittle or damaged hair. Put it in a loose bun or a braid instead, or just leave your hair down.
- Don’t dry your hair with a towel. Rubbing your already fragile hair with a towel will only make it more prone to breakage and other issues. Air drying, which is really best for all hair, not just those with alopecia,
There’s no definite cure or treatment for alopecia, but you can reduce the effects of the disorder and eventually mitigate it entirely by removing any stress that might have triggered the hair loss, by eating hair-healthy foods, and by treating your hair gently. If you want to learn more tips about how to treat thinning hair, check out our all natural products that instantly cover thinning hair.