forever, not even your hair! Your hair length, style and color actually frames
your face and ultimately your personality. It is normal to lose some strands of
hair every day, due to the end of life cycle of a hair strand. However, the
cause for concern arises when you see an abnormal or persistent loss of hair
which could be quite distressing and causes lot of emotional stress to anybody
The medical term for persistent and
abnormal hair loss is 'Alopecia areata'. It is an autoimmune
. In normal humans, the
immune system protects the body against infection and disease. However, if you
have an autoimmune disease, your body's immune system attacks some parts of
your own body. In alopecia
, your body's immune system attacks your own hair follicles. Patients generally lose patches of hair on the scalp, but may also
lose facial and body hair. Even though the
exact cause cannot be pinpointed, scientists believe that it could mainly be
genetic. Currently, there are no known treatments to
completely restore hair in these patients, who could possibly suffer from
mental and emotional stress.
now investigating a new class of drug for treating alopecia, known as JAK
inhibitors, which is actually approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
to treat a rare type of bone marrow cancer called myelofibrosis.
Researchers from Columbia
University Medical Center identified the immune cells that destroy hair
follicles in people with alopecia areata. They then conducted studies with the
drug ruxolitinib (brand name: Jakafi) in such patients and found that the drug
actually eliminated these immune cells. Some of the study results were
published online on August 17, 2014 in the journal Nature Medicine
The scientists initially tested
the drug in mice and then in a small group of people who suffered from moderate
to severe alopecia areata (more than 30 percent hair
). They found that three patients had total hair regrowth just within
5 months of starting the treatment.
The lead author Dr. Raphael
Clynes said in a Columbia news release "We've only begun testing the drug
in patients, but if the drug continues to be successful and safe, it will have
a dramatic positive impact on the lives of people with this disease. We still
need to do more testing to establish that ruxolitinib should be used in
alopecia areata, but this is exciting news for patients and their
He also stated that "This disease has been completely
understudied -- until now only two small clinical trials evaluating targeted
therapies in alopecia areata have been performed, largely because of the lack
of mechanistic insight into it."
However, the entire team of
scientists were of the firm opinion that further tests were needed before the
drug could be safely be used as a treatment for alopecia
Dr Luis Garza, a dermatologist practicing
in Johns Hopkins Hospital, who was not one of the study authors, said the
results were quite encouraging and that he would consider prescribing
ruxolitinib to patients who could not be treated with other standard methods of
treatment and understood the side effects.
Dr George Cotsarelis, a dermatologist at
the University of Pennsylvania, however said it makes sense that drugs
suppressing immune system activity would work for a disorder caused by an
overly active immune reaction, but further tests should be done to conclusively
He also said that if ruxolitinib could be applied topically, that would be an
amazing breakthrough. He felt that the twice daily pills which were used in the
study could potentially cause liver and blood problems, infections and other
ailments. Although the patients have experienced few side effects, the study
that was conducted was done in small number of patients and was not a
randomized trial comparing ruxolitinib to other treatments.
Tips to Prevent Hair Loss
Provide good nutrition for your hair or they'll
eventually fall. Omega 3 fatty
are known to provide nourishment to hair follicles, promote
hair growth and make them more elastic so that they do not break easily. Some
of the foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids are salmon
You hair is primarily made up of protein.
So include protein-rich
in your daily diet like meat, dairy or protein
deficiency could lead to hair loss.
Massage your scalp on a regular basis. It
increases blood flow to your scalp and strengthens the hair roots. You could
choose from a variety of hair oils such as coconut oil, almond
, olive oil, lavender oil etc.
Do not wash your hair more than required as
excess washing of hair could also take away the natural oils and damage the
Use a wide-tooth comb to remove knots from your
hair. This will help reduce the risk of hair breakage and hair fall while
Minimize the use of hair dryers and curlers
since constant heating and drying could weaken the hair protein, and make it
more brittle and fragile.
Include foods that are high in the mineral zinc
your diet such as wheat germ, spinach, pumpkin, sunflower seeds etc. Zinc
builds proteins and boosts tissue growth and repair. It also regulates hormones
such as testosterone, high levels of which can lead to hair loss.
Alternative therapies include acupuncture
, evening primrose oil, vitamin supplements
and Chinese herbs. However a word of caution - alternative therapies have not
been studied in clinical trials; they therefore may or may not help hair grow
Last but not the least, stress is part of
everyday life, but can take a toll on your hair's health, so try to combat it
with yoga and meditation.