Alopecia Areata and Hair Loss After Pregnancy: How to Encourage Hair Growth

Hair loss after pregnancy and alopecia areata are more common than you think. Here are natural remedies to reverse the loss and regain healthy hair.

Woman with a hairbrush in hand with clumps of hair.

Troubled by hair loss? You are not alone. As many as 90% of women experience hair loss after pregnancy, aka postpartum alopecia. Though this seems to be the most common cause, there are other reasons why you could have hair loss, such as a scalp infection or vitamin deficiency. Another notable cause is alopecia areata, an autoimmune condition. While hair generally grows back in the case of postpartum alopecia, that may not be the case with alopecia areata.

Learn about alopecia areata, other types of hair loss and how to treat them with natural remedies. 

Causes of Alopecia Areata

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease where your immune system mistakenly attacks your hair follicles. This causes hair loss. While the condition can occur in anyone, the risk is higher in a person with a family history of the condition. It’s also more common if you have asthma, hay fever or other allergic disorders, thyroid disease, vitiligo, Down syndrome, or are undergoing chemotherapy. Many treatments are available; however, the condition is not curable and often recurs. 

Hair loss after pregnancy is also very common and is caused by falling hormone levels. The good news is that it doesn’t require any treatment, and most mothers regain their hair’s normal fullness by their child’s first birthday. 

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) attributes hair loss to Blood Deficiency, Stagnation, and Heatiness. According to TCM Physician Lim Sock Ling, the TCM treatment principle emphasises nourishing blood, removing Wind and Stagnation, and clearing the mind. 

Remedies for Alopecia Areata 

Depending on the duration and severity of your condition, your doctor may advise you to wait and watch before starting treatment. Western medicine’s treatment of alopecia areata includes taking steroids and other medications like minoxidil. You may decide to go for natural therapies though, as they have fewer side effects when taken under the guidance of a registered practitioner.

A young Asian girl checking for bald patch on her scalp
Alopecia areata may leave bald patches on your head, which may or may not have hair regrowth.

Take charge of your health 

“A healthy lifestyle is a foundation for preventing hair loss” advises Physician Lim. “Maintain your work-life balance, manage stress and have a physically active lifestyle. Focus on your emotional wellbeing as well. Avoid unnecessary negative emotions such as frustration, unhappiness, and anger. Stress causes Liver Qi Stagnation, leading to Blood Stasis.” 

So, take time from your busy schedule for some self-care. After giving birth, it is important to nourish blood to compensate for the loss during childbirth. 

Healthy diet for healthy hair 

You are what you eat is Physician Lim’s perspective on diet. “TCM advocates eating in balance and moderation. Try to eat from all food groups and all colours. In particular, eat a balanced diet from the colours red, yellow, white, black and green to nourish all the organs,” she says. 

“Opt for fresh fruits and vegetables over frozen and processed ones to gain maximum benefit from your food. Adding red dates (hong zao, 红枣), goji berries (gou qi, 枸杞), black sesame (hei zhi ma, 黑芝麻), and black beans (黑豆) to dishes can help prevent alopecia or hair loss,” recommends Physician Lim.

You may opt for the easier and more convenient way of supplementing your diet with ready-prepared hair tonics to prevent hair loss. 

Acupuncture 

Acupuncture under the guidance of a registered TCM practitioner could be the answer to quick hair loss reversal. The treatment helps stimulate hair follicles using needles inserted into the scalp.

Different acupoints are used depending on the type of deficiency or toxicity that is responsible for hair loss. Physician Lim generally uses the following acupoints based on her assessment of the pathology.

  • Acupoints gan shu (BL18, 肝俞), shen shu (BL23, 肾俞) and zu san li (ST36, 足三里) help invigorate qi (vital energy), nourish blood and regulate hormonal levels when used together. This helps in patients with Blood Deficiency. 
  • Patients with Blood Stagnation benefit from the following acupoints: Tai chong (LR3, 太沖), which helps regulate qi and promote blood flow; san yin jiao (SP6, 三阴交) is often used to control blood and was proven to be effective in promoting women’s general health.  
  • Blood Heatiness can be resolved using the acupoint feng chi (GB20, 风池), which helps to remove Wind, thus improving itching. Xue Hai (SP10, 血海) is another acupoint that helps remove Heat from the blood and regulate circulation.  

However, remember that individuals with blood disorders or on blood-thinning medication should be cautious of bleeding after acupuncture. You should inform your TCM practitioner of any underlying medical condition or treatment that you may be taking. 

Treat yourself to a head massage

Traditional scalp massages stimulate blood circulation to the scalp. The numerous acupoints on the scalp help in general wellness when massaged. This includes improving active energy, concentration, and memory, enhancing sleep quality, aiding relaxation and reducing stress. Increasing blood flow to the hair follicles improves hair loss and the health of the scalp and hair. 

Moxibustion 

Moxibustion on patches of alopecia areata may help hair regrowth in those areas. 

Alopecia areata and any other type of hair loss can be quite disheartening. But before you chop off your tresses, try these natural remedies to beat hair loss. Remember that traditional remedies take time before any effects are seen, especially for alopecia areata. With time, patience and self-care, it won’t be long before you start seeing more of your hair and less of your scalp. 

References

  1. NIH. Alopecia Areata.  [Accessed on 27 June 2022].  
  2. American Academy of Dermatology. Hair loss types: Alopecia areata causes  [Accessed on 27 June 2022] 
  3. American Academy of Dermatology. Hair loss in new moms  [Accessed on 27 June 2022] 

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