Hair loss is usually associated with growing older. But hair can fall out for a number of other reasons including stress, poor nutrition, infection, or chemotherapy. A particularly frustrating form of hair loss is caused by autoimmune disease. Why does this happen and are there ways to prevent or treat it? You can find the answers to these questions and more by reading this article.
The immune system is a vast network of cells, proteins, and organs which function together to rid the body of pathogens, cancer, and dead or dying cells. Autoimmune diseases result when the immune system mistakes the bodys own healthy cells as foreign and destroys them accordingly. Several autoimmune diseases are known to cause hair loss this way.
- Alopecia Areata: This autoimmune disease occurs in about 2% of the population and usually first appears in childhood. It is usually manifested as a round bald spot about 1 inch in diameter. Other more serious forms of Alopecia Areata can cause baldness of the entire scalp or hair loss all over the body.
- Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE): About 50% of people with lupus report hair loss in correlation with lupus flares (a sudden appearance of symptoms). Hair loss can occur in patches or evenly throughout the scalp. Hair growth generally returns when the disease goes back into remission.
The energy-hungry immune system can also cause hair to fall out from nutritional depletion. You know how an infection can leave you feeling weak and tired? Its not the fault of the invading organism but rather your immune system. All sorts of new cells and proteins are produced when an infection is present. These processes require a ton of energy in the form of nutrition. When your body cant get enough of it through the foods you eat, it starts shutting down other processes that arent necessary for survival (like growing hair) in effort to free-up resources for fighting the infection.
Autoimmune Diseases Eat Up Energy
The immune systems of those with autoimmune diseases are much more active than the average healthy immune system. The low-grade fever or inflammation associated with autoimmune diseases takes a lot of energy. When the body finally runs out of important hair-growing nutrients by trying to keep the immune system running, hair loss can occur.
Nutrients Necessary for Hair Growth
Those with hair loss caused by an autoimmune disease must work extra hard to get enough nutrients for healthy hair growth. Hair is approximately 91% protein and therefore requires ample amounts of protein in the diet. Vitamins A, B6 (biotin), and B12 as well as zinc are also vital for healthy hair growth. A good way for those with autoimmune disease to get the nutrition they need without having to be eating constantly is by taking a daily supplement.
Other Natural Treatment Methods
There are other natural methods said to promote hair growth which may help those suffering from hair loss by autoimmune disease. Oil mixtures containing rosemary, thyme, lavender, and cedarwood essential oils when rubbed onto the scalp have been shown to improve hair growth. Onion juice applied to the scalp twice daily has also been shown to help grow back hair lost from autoimmune diseases. Sources: http://www.follicle.com/section2/1.html http://lupus.webmd.com/guide/lupus-systemic-lupus-erythematosus-symptoms http://altmedicine.about.com/cs/herbsvitaminsek/a/Alopecia.htm