Alopecia areata, or loss of hair in patches, is the commonest type of hair loss. It can affect any hair-bearing area of the body, albeit the term often connotes patchy hair loss from the scalp. Among hair disorders, none arouses as much interest as alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder — a condition in which the immune system of the body mistakenly attacks our body’s own cells (in this case, hair follicles) and destroys them.
Alopecia areata affects people of all ages. It can involve any part of the body. In certain cases, it can extend to the eyebrows, eyelashes, and facial hair (beard, moustache). It can progress rapidly, leading to complete loss of scalp hair in a span as short as 15 days, or limiting itself to persistent patches throughout life. It can sometimes progress to total loss of hair on the scalp (alopecia areata totalis), or complete loss of hair all over the body (alopecia areata universalis).
Evaluating alopecia areata is probably one of the easiest things for a doctor to do, since the patches are so characteristic. Yet, it is also the most difficult condition to treat. To confirm diagnosis, your homeopath, specialised in trichology (science of scalp and hair), may recommend certain blood tests to rule out underlying problems like anaemia, diabetes, and thyroid disorders. In addition, a folliscopic (PC-based video microscopy) test (a painless, non-invasive procedure that magnifies the view of hair follicles and the scalp up to 200 times) is performed. In rare instances, a hair biopsy is recommended.
Homeopathy does not merely treat hair loss on the surface. It endeavors to treat the “root cause” of the problem, taking into account the individual’s unique nature, their distinctive characteristics, temperament, and idiosyncrasies. Fluoric Acid is used as it has symptoms which characteristically match the symptoms of alopecia areata. In many cases, there is often an underlying emotional cause. This is taken into consideration while prescribing a homeopathic remedy. For instance, Ignatia Amara is used when there is sudden hair loss in patches — a result of sudden stress, grief, or emotional turmoil.
Published in the Times of India on 1 August 2010
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