Alopecia areata (AA) is a condition in which hair is lost from some or all areas of the body, usually from the scalp. Because it causes bald spots on the scalp, especially in the first stages, it is sometimes called spot baldness. In 1–2% of cases, the condition can spread to the entire scalp (alopecia totalis) or to the entire epidermis (alopecia universalis). Conditions resembling AA, and having a similar cause, occur also in other species.
Commonly, alopecia areata involves hair loss in one or more round spots on the scalp.
Hair may also be lost more diffusely over the whole scalp, in which case the condition is called diffuse alopecia areata.
The disease may also go into remission for a time, or may be permanent.
The area of hair loss may tingle or be painful.Alopecia areata is not contagious. It occurs more frequently in people who have affected family members, suggestingheredity may be a factor.
The condition is thought to be a systemic autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks its own anagen hair folliclesand suppresses or stops hair growth.
Alopecia may arise from numerous causes, including stress reactions, hypothyroidism, exposure of the hair follicles to topically-applied chemicals, therapies used for cancer, and genetic male-pattern balding. The disorder is often classified by its specific manifestation, such as patchy balding (alopecia areata), total loss of head hair (alopecia totalis), or total loss of body hair (alopecia universalis). Alopecia areata and alopecia totalis frequently affect women, and the disorder may persist for several months to about a year, sometimes longer.
Generally, alopecia is interpreted by Chinese doctors as the result of a deficiency syndrome, specifically involving blood deficiency, with generation of internal wind or invasion of external wind that affects the head; the situation is sometimes complicated by blood stasis and/or blood heat. The belief that there is an influence of wind in the etiology of the hair loss is reflected in the Chinese name for the disease, which is youfeng, literally oil-wind. The reference to oil, which can also mean glossy, is an expression characterizing the smooth, shiny scalp appearance where the hair has been lost. The Chinese name has led to some humorous translations; in the package insert for Alopecia Areata Pills, the primary indication is for "grease hair dropping."
The underlying pathological processes cause the hair follicles to be undernourished. Blood deficiency can arise from poor diet, excessive use of drugs, the aging process, stress reaction (worry, anxiety, depression, which impairs spleen function and thereby reduces nurturing of blood), and debilitating diseases. Sudden hair loss, like other sudden health changes, is interpreted as a consequence of "wind;" in this case it is invading the channels that traverse the scalp.
A typical description of the cause of alopecia is presented in Practical Traditional Chinese Dermatology
(1):The hairs are the extension of blood, and the normal growth and development of long, pliable, and tough hairs depends on the sufficient supply of nourishment from ying and blood. If the supply of nutrients is reduced, the wind may be produced in the body to cause loss of hairs. Nervousness, depression, and mental instability may cause production of internal heat, and the excessive heat in the blood may produce wind and cause loss of hairs due to reduced nutrition supply, and such patients may show clinical manifestation of wind syndrome due to blood heat. In patients with chronic diseases and exhaustion of essence and blood, the deficiency of blood may also produce wind to cause loss of hairs, and such patients may show the clinical manifestation of wind syndrome due to deficiency of blood. In patients with their diseases wrongly treated or refractory to any treatment, the fresh blood can not be produced to nourish the hairs because of the stagnation of blood and obstruction of meridians, and such patients may show clinical manifestations of wind syndrome owing to blood stagnation.
According to the English-Chinese Encyclopedia of Practical Traditional Chinese Medicine ,
Alopecia is mostly caused by deficiency of liver and kidney with subsequent failure of [blood to go up and nourish] the hair. The hair pores are open when the hair is poorly nourished, and wind invades the pores on the occasion. Therefore, deficient blood with wind [invasion] leads to hair loss. However, stagnation of liver qi and impaired qi mechanism will also result in hair loss because of the malnutrition of hair due to stagnation of qi and stasis of blood.
The same encyclopedia has an elaboration of the etiology of alopecia in the volume of dermatology :
This disease is often caused by deficiency of blood, which fails to cooperate with qi in nourishing the skin. The striae of skin and muscles in turn become loose, and the opening of the sweat glands is loose, hence, pathogenic wind intrudes from outside, causing blood-dryness and malnutrition of the hair. Besides, the mood of depression, stagnation of liver qi, and overwork may impair the heart qi and cause stagnation of qi and blood stasis so that qi and blood cannot nourish the hair, hence the occurrence of the disease; deficiency of the liver qi and kidney qi may also cause this disease, because the liver stores the blood whose state can be manifested by the hair, while the kidneys produce bone marrow which is also responsible for the growth of hair.
SO, our treatments are to use traditional Chinese Acupuncture and/or herbs to invigorate the circulation of blood, to nourish and reinforce the kidney and liver, so as to reach the internal balance among their functions. The hair will grow back normally and remain healthy.
Please call for appointment for our doctors to check it out and get treatment if you have the sign of losing hair.