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Can Autoimmune Disease Cause Hair Loss?

Males and females can be affected by hair loss, which many different factors may cause. Hair loss or alopecia affects approximately 2% of the population and can be classified as alopecia areata (patches/areas of hair loss) or alopecia totals (complete hair loss).

Alopecia can be very distressing for the individual and may have a heavy psychological impact. From a naturopathic perspective, alopecia is a condition that can be managed and treated. The aim is to determine the root cause of hair loss to holistically treat and prevent recurring hair loss.

Causes of Hair Loss

Hair loss is a physical and external sign indicating that something else may be happening inside the body. Factors such as nutrient deficiencies, pharmaceutical drugs, hormonal imbalances or contraception, chronic stress, thyroid disorders and food intolerances all may contribute to an individual's hair loss.

Autoimmune diseases are conditions in which the immune system attacks part of its body and may contribute to an individual's hair loss. Alopecia areata is classified as an autoimmune disease that causes an individual's hair to fall out. This frequently occurs in association with other autoimmune diseases, such as thyroid disorders and skin conditions with an underlying autoimmune element.

Autoimmune Disease and Hair Loss

An autoimmune reaction in the body causes Alopecia Areata. The immune system becomes confused and mistakenly attacks its own system. It is a common symptom of autoimmune diseases, where the hair follicles are targeted, causing a person’s hair to fall out.

The body’s immune system signals white blood cells to attack healthy hair follicle cells (an autoimmune response), causing them to shrink and resulting in the hair falling out. Alopecia areata has been considered an autoimmune disease due to its abnormal T cell response against the hair follicle self-antigens. This can happen on the scalp or other parts of the body and ranges from small patches to complete loss. Alopecia may occur as a single episode or recur at intervals for years.

Hair loss can be an extremely emotionally challenging period for the individual and may often be accompanied by stress, low mood and anxiety. It’s important to seek support on your health journey if you feel like this.

The Naturopathic Approach to Autoimmune Hair Loss

In order to treat an individual, the best place to start is to identify the underlying or root cause of the hair loss. This may be done with a thorough investigation, case taking and pathology tests to assess the underlying drivers. From here, an individualised treatment plan will be created, which may include specific herbs or nutrients as well as dietary and lifestyle considerations to support the autoimmune disorder and hair health.

At the Infinite Health Studio, our experienced team of practitioners use a holistic approach paired with evidence-based medicine to help support you on your health journey.

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