My Journey With Alopecia Areata

About 10 years ago, I moved into a chilly, moist apartment in one of those old Victorian homes that tourists love to photograph. It was on a coveted quiet side-street shaded from direct sun which probably didn’t help my situation. During the first winter, I noticed how damp everything felt from my comforter to my clothes to even my face. Soon, I started feeling ill with upper respiratory congestion and severe fatigue. I would feel better visiting family out of town but would feel worse upon returning. When I developed small bald circular patches of hair-loss over night, I finally fled my apartment to a friend’s dry couch and notified the landlord. Their inspection revealed mold growing in the walls and flooring due to a crack in the foundation allowing moisture penetration. My inspection revealed I had developed Alopecia Areata.

Alopecia Areata is currently listed as a non-contagious auto-immune disease where your own immune cells attack hair follicles and stop hair growth. They do this by secreting inflammatory agents that interrupt the natural growth cycle of hair. Sometimes it is limited to just small circular areas of loss while in rare cases can develop into total loss of hair aptly named Alopecia Totalis. No one knows why it happens in a circular presentation or why it often resolves on its own. Even in remission, there is what is termed “a moth-like eaten” presentation of hair where subtle round density variation can be seen.

My personal journey with Alopecia Areata has led to some clues to as to triggers and successful treatments. Stress is listed as a potential trigger but I’ve found that my immune system starting at my gut is as important. My current flare up was triggered by a local infection treated with antibiotics. A few days after using the antibiotic, my spots started to appear and multiplied even after clearing the infection.

My personal Alopecia Areata hacks:

  • Fresh Ginger topically. It does work but it can be a hassle to rub fresh ginger for minutes on to all the spots. Ginger acts as a counter irritant to the immune-mediated attack.
  • Candida cleanse protocol. Avoiding sugars of all kinds combined with antifungal herbs with high dose probiotics. Help stopped them from multiplying and getting larger.
  • Steroid injections. To speed up the return of hair, judicious use of cortico-steroids injected in 4 week intervals will help accelerate hair regrowth by suppressing the local over-active immune response. Over use can result in suppressing hair growth so use with caution.

Unfortunately, I haven’t found a cure for Alopecia Areata though I do know keeping my gut flora intact and reducing stress do keep them away.

–Dr. Wang

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