Losing your hair can be challenging, especially for women. If you're going through medical treatments with hair-loss side effects, you've come to expect hair loss. But if you're still young and your hair falls out suddenly -- and won't stop -- you're likely up against an autoimmune disease called alopecia areata, the unexplained loss of hair on your scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows and other parts of the body. Between prescription oral medications, topical ointments and homeopathic-type remedies, there are things you can do to take control of your treatment and regain your emotional strength.
Why Hair Loss Happens Before 30
Hair falls out for a variety of reasons -- an influx in hormones, improper diet, stress, unhealthy hair habits, genetics and more. Unexplained hair loss in women under 30 years old is diagnosed as alopecia, an autoimmune disorder where the body attacks its own hair, even though the person is in good health. It's thought to be genetic, and sometimes hair will start growing again. If you have cicatricial alopecia, however, your hair follicles become plugged with scar tissue and the hair will not grow back. According to NHS Choices, six out of 10 people diagnosed with alopecia first developed a bald patch before hitting 20 years old.
You should first visit your general practitioner about unexplained hair loss to get a full blood workup to rule out any deficiencies or illness. If your blood work comes back normal, see a board-certified dermatologist who can perform a scalp biopsy, give steroid injections under the skin surface and prescribe topical medications. Those with extensive alopecia, who have lost more than 50 percent of their hair, can try cortisone pills or topical immunotherapy treatments; a forced rash -- similar to poison ivy -- is produced on the scalp to get the hair follicles moving. The downside to this treatment is itchiness, which can be exaggerated when you wear a wig.
Aromatherapy treatments can help stimulate hair growth in some people. Mix thyme, rosemary and lavender into carrier oils such as cedar wood, jojoba and grapeseed oils. Rub these oils onto your scalp and gently massage your fingertips into your skin to increase blood flow to the hair follicles, advises the Pacific College for Oriental Medicine. Talk to your doctor first, because some herbs and natural remedies may interfere with other medications. You can also try lowering your vitamin A intake, while increasing iron, protein and vitamin B.
Gaining Support for Hair Loss
Depression can easily set in if you don't get the support you need. The National Alopecia Areata Foundation recommends getting involved in a hair-loss support group in your area or communicating with others via online community boards. You may also feel more comfortable wearing a wig during this time. There are many online resources that sell specifically to women experiencing alopecia -- wigs, head accessories, special makeup tools, online tutorials for women who have lost eyelashes and eyebrows, and other items are available to help women through this challenging time.
- American Academy of Dermatology: Hair Loss: Who Gets and Causes
- NHS Choices: Hair Loss
- MedlinePlus: Alopecia Areata
- National Alopecia Areata Foundation: Treatment for Alopecia Areata
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Randomized Trial of Aromatherapy. Successful Treatment for Alopecia Areata
- Health: 12 Reasons Why You're Losing Your Hair
- Pacific College of Oriental Medicine: The Benefits of Scalp Massage for Hair Loss