A 20 year old female came to my clinic with hair
loss. She was suffering from loss of hair in patches on her scalp
and was extremely anxious about this problem. She had tried all
other possible therapies but none had shown any results. On examination
I found typical patches of hair loss indicating Alopecia Areata.
On further case-taking I found out that this had started 2 years
ago. On questioning her about what happened two or three years
back I was told that her mother had expired suddenly which was
a shock to her.
WHAT IS ALOPECIA AREATA?
Alopecia areata is defined as a non-scarring,
inflammatory loss of hair affecting men, women, and children. This
hair loss problem is still a mystery to the physicians and people
doing research. But of late the one theory that seems to make sense
is that Alopecia Areata is an auto-immune disorder. This means that
the person's own immune cells prevent the hair follicles from producing
WHAT ARE THE TRIGGER FACTORS FOR ALOPECIA AREATA?
Like I have written earlier no one knows for a
100% what causes this disorder but the theory of auto-immune disorder
is widely accepted. For an auto-immune disorder to surface there
has to be a trigger factor. Here are a few potential trigger factors
1. Mental and Emotional stress - this is
considered as one of the most likely triggers for the development
of Alopecia areata. Psychological stress can give rise to an underlying
auto-immune disorder which is dormant in the body.
2. Shock or sudden extreme stress - the loss
of a near or dear one, divorce, accident are considered
as sudden extreme stress. In a number of cases it has
been observed that alopecia areata has occurred after
such an episode.
3. Injury to the skin - people who are susceptible
to developing alopecia areata will have loss of hair
wherever she or he gets a cut, scrape or abrasion.
4. Physical stress - it has been observed that
some people develop this hair disorder after suffering
from another major illness like fever, viral infection,
cancer, radiation etc… Also a physical injury
like a blow to the head can trigger the hair loss.
5. Allergies - if you are genetically prone to
develop allergic conditions like asthma, urticaria,
then you are more susceptible to developing alopecia areata which
is more extensive and prolonged in nature.
6. Chemicals - some people believe that certain
chemicals like pesticides have the potential to trigger
7. Viral and bacterial infections - there are
certain viral infections of the hair follicles that
can give rise to loss of hair. However these theories
are doubtful but what is possible is that these virus
or bacteria stimulate the person's own immunity giving
rise to inappropriate reactions against the hair cells.
8. Pregnancy and hormones - it has been observed
that hormonal fluctuations do affect the course of Alopecia
areata. Puberty and menopause are two very periods for
a female. Alopecia could be triggered during these periods.
Also it has been noticed that a woman suffering from
alopecia can go into remission or have regrowth of hair
9. Genetics - no one can prove for a certainty
that Alopecia areata is a genetically linked disorder
but there is a higher incidence of it within some families.
What the research groups have concluded is that the
individual is more susceptible to develop Alopecia if
it is present within the family but an environmental
trigger is required.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF ALOPECIA AREATA
Alopecia Areata has many different presentations
but loss of hair is the main problem. The pattern of hair loss varies
in each case. Some people suffer from a single circular patch while
others have a more diffuse form where there are no distinct patches
and the hair loss is all over.
Some people have loss of hair in a serpent fashion known as Ophiasis.
In this case the person has loss of hair all around the margins.
Alopecia totalis indicates complete loss of hair on the scalp. Here
the surface of the scalp becomes very smooth.
Alopecia universalis means a complete loss of hair all over the
body. This is a very severe form where the person loses all eyelashes,
eyebrows, pubic hair, underarm hair and hair from other parts of
There are several different forms of treatment
available for this problem. However very few have found to be effective
and all have their set of side-effects. Some physicians even give
their patients steroid injections in the scalp, which is very dangerous
especially for children. Alopecia Areata by itself is not a serious
disorder but it is more a cosmetic problem which can damage a person.
Some people do have a spontaneous re-growth without any medication
but this is quite rare. If we consider the auto-immune theory as
being right then we need to treat the individual's own immunity
taking the trigger factors into consideration. This is exactly how
we treat Alopecia Areata in Homoeopathy with good results. We take
the presentation or pattern of hair loss into account along with
the other mental and physical symptoms. We try to stimulate the
patient's own hair cells to re-grow.
My 20 year old female patient whose case has been
described at the beginning received this remedy. She had all the
symptoms of Apis Mellifica. After hearing the bad news of her mother's
death her disorder surfaced. She had a lot of grief and would weep
practically every day. She said her hair felt very painful and would
fall. There were a few bald patches in her scalp.
She also suffered from skin allergies. This patient would develop
red spots all over. This would burn and sting her like an insect
All her problems would be worse from heat and in hot weather. Only
cold air or bath would make her feel better.
Apis Mellifica 200, 5 pills 4 times a day helped her a great deal
not only physically but also emotionally.
I had another very interesting case of a 30 year
old man who developed patches of baldness on his scalp. He was afraid
that he was developing premature baldness. But he had the typical
presentation of Alopecia areata. Even the hair left appeared brittle
All this started a year ago. On examination I found that even his
nails appeared brittle as if they would just crumble. I asked him
about past illnesses and he told me that he had a bad episode of
fever one and a half years back which was not diagnosed. This fever
had remained for nearly one month but all the tests were inconclusive.
He had also been given several different types of antibiotics intravenously.
I gave him Fluoric acid 200, 5 pills in repeated
doses which helped bring the lost hair back.
This is a very popular remedy especially used
in cases of children and the aged. Here the child suffers from hair
fall which creates areas of baldness. A Baryta carb child's constitution
is fat, with delayed learning to walk and talk, have difficulty
There maybe moist crust formation on the scalp with falling of hair.
The child may also suffer from swollen glands along with this problem.
These children like to be alone and dislike company. They are very
shy and will not mix or play with other children.
Baryta Carb 200, 5 pills 4 times a day will help
in these cases.
This is another very useful remedy for treating
Alopecia where the symptoms are present. Here the loss of hair could
be triggered by stress especially mental stress. Here the patient
will say that he feels weak mentally and cannot think or remember
The hair may turn prematurely gray and become thin. The hair falls
out in patches especially after some emotional grief or sorrow.
Even the hair from the beard falls out. Here the patient feel extremely
listless and weak especially after loss of fluids or emotions. Only
warmth makes him feel better.
Phosphoric acid 1M, 5 pills 4 times a day should
be given in order to bring the person back to health.
Readers are advised
that the medical advice offered in this column pertains to generalised
treatment of condition. Kindly consult your doctor before self-medication.