Q: I am a 34-year-old woman suffering from alopecia areata for the past 10 years. I have tried various remedies but they haven’t helped. I used to have long thick beautiful hair; it’s still long now but thinning. Please help.

Alopecia areata is not usually a serious medical condition, but it can cause a lot of worry and anxiety. When you have an autoimmune disease, your immune system attacks your own body by mistake. With alopecia areata, it is your hair follicles that are being attacked. This causes the hair to come out, often in patches. Exclamation-mark hairs may be seen at the margin of the patch. These are broken, short hairs that taper at the base. Some people lose it only in a few spots; others lose a lot. It’s rare, but you can lose all the hair on your head (alopecia areata totalis) or entire body (alopecia areata universalis). Sometimes, hair grows back but falls out again later. In others, hair grows back for good.

[My 7-year-old lost all his hair due to alopecia areata]

Stress factors seem to trigger alopecia areata, although this has not been proven scientifically. Alopecia areata is sometimes associated with other auto-immune conditions such as allergic disorders, thyroid disease, vitiligo, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel diseases. Sometimes alopecia areata occurs within family members, suggesting a role of heredity.

Some of the commonly used herbs for external application are: Bhrungraj (Eclipta alba), Amalaki (Emblica officinalis), Hibiscus, Bhallathaka (Semicarpus anacardium), Dathura (Datura stramonium), Licorice etc. Some Ayurveda doctors do leech therapy and blood-letting by small pricking on the bald spots. An effective treatment that I used to follow in Kerala is a combination of local irritant and hair tonics.

Gentle scraping on the alopecia patches with leaves of Therakam (Ficus asperrima) or with Triphala choornam and local application of Neelibhringadi keram or Danta mazhi for few days can help.

● Try taking 10g of Tiktakam ghritham (ghee based) internally at bedtime for a month.

● Apply Indralupta lepam or Dantha mazhi on the patches.

● You may need to visit an Ayurvedic doctor for a prescription for internal medicine too.

Dr VL Shyam is a Dubai-based Ayurveda practitioner. Got a problem? Our fantastic panel of renowned experts is available to answer all your questions related to fashion, well-being, nutrition, finance and hypnotherapy. Email your queries to friday@gulfnews.com.