Hair loss can be a distressing condition that affects both men and women. While there are many potential causes of hair loss, inflammation is emerging as a common culprit. When the body experiences chronic inflammation, it can interfere with the normal hair growth cycle and lead to excessive shedding or thinning of the hair. The good news is that there are steps you can take to treat hair loss caused by inflammation.
How to treat hair loss due to inflammation
The key to treating hair loss due to inflammation is identifying and addressing the source of the inflammation. Some common causes of inflammatory hair loss include:
- Scalp conditions like dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, or psoriasis
- Autoimmune disorders like lupus or alopecia areata
- Allergic reactions
- Skin infections
- Hormonal imbalances like thyroid disorders
- Nutritional deficiencies like low iron, vitamin D, or zinc
Consulting with a dermatologist can help diagnose any underlying scalp or skin condition that may be causing inflammation and subsequent hair loss. For other systemic causes, you may need to see your primary care physician or an endocrinologist.
Once the source of inflammation is identified, the next step is to treat it appropriately:
Treat any underlying conditions
If an underlying health condition is contributing to inflammation, properly treating it can help minimize hair loss. For example, thyroid medication may be prescribed for hypothyroidism, or steroids and immunosuppressants for autoimmune disorders. Any medications should be used under medical supervision.
Improve scalp health
Scalp inflammation is a common cause of hair thinning. Using medicated shampoos containing ingredients like zinc pyrithione, coal tar, selenium sulfide, or ketoconazole can help reduce inflammation, dandruff, and itching. Salicylic acid shampoos may also be beneficial. Rotate different medicated shampoos to prevent fungal resistance.
Manage stress levels
Chronic stress promotes systemic inflammation and can exacerbate hair loss. Stress management techniques like meditation, yoga, counseling, or support groups can reduce inflammation. Getting adequate sleep, exercise, and relaxation is also important.
Take anti-inflammatory supplements
Certain vitamins, minerals, and nutrients have anti-inflammatory properties that may aid hair regrowth. These include:
- Omega-3 fatty acids - Found in fish oil, walnuts, chia seeds, etc.
- Vitamin D - Abundant in fatty fish, egg yolks, and fortified foods.
- Zinc - Found in oysters, nuts, red meat, beans, etc.
- Turmeric - Contains the active compound curcumin.
- Green tea - Rich in epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG).
- Ginger - Contains gingerol which reduces inflammation.
- Grape seed extract - High in antioxidants like proanthocyanidins.
A dietary supplement or multivitamin containing some of these nutrients may help control inflammation both inside and outside the body. Always consult your doctor before starting any new supplements.
Improve your diet
Diet plays a major role in controlling inflammation. Limiting processed foods, sugars, saturated fats, and excessive omega-6 fatty acids can reduce inflammation. Instead, eat more natural anti-inflammatory foods like:
- Leafy greens like spinach, kale, collards
- Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna
- Walnuts, chia and flax seeds
- Spices like turmeric, ginger, cinnamon
- Colorful fruits and vegetables
- Green tea
Also ensure you get enough protein for hair growth by incorporating eggs, lean meats, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Stay hydrated by drinking adequate water throughout the day.
Avoid damaging hairstyles and treatments
Certain hairstyles and treatments can worsen inflammation and hair thinning. Avoid tight styles like ponytails, buns or braids which put pressure on the hair follicles. Be gentle while brushing and washing hair. Limit heat styling tools like curling irons or hair dryers which can burn and dry out the scalp. Chemical relaxers and dyes can also irritate the scalp.
Use topical anti-inflammatories
Applying anti-inflammatory ingredients directly to the scalp may also reduce inflammation locally. These include:
- Aloe vera gel
- Green tea
- Black seed oil
- Onion juice
- Rosemary oil
Mix small amounts of these ingredients with a carrier oil and massage gently into the scalp. Rinse after 30-60 minutes. This can be done 2-3 times a week for best results.
Try medical treatments
For moderate to severe cases, prescription anti-inflammatory medications or injections may be necessary. Some options include:
- Corticosteroid injects - Potent anti-inflammatories injected into the scalp.
- Biologic drugs - Target specific inflammatory pathways to reduce immune reactions.
- JAK inhibitors - Block inflammation-triggering enzymes called janus kinases.
These treatments can effectively reduce inflammation but have potential side effects. They should only be used under medical guidance after other options have failed.
Inflammation can disrupt the hair growth cycle and lead to excessive shedding or thinning hair. Identifying and treating the source of inflammation is key to stopping hair loss. Improving scalp health, reducing stress, taking anti-inflammatory supplements, eating a healthy diet, avoiding damaging haircare, using topical remedies, and medical treatments can all help treat inflammatory hair loss. With time and consistency, reducing inflammation can help get your hair regrowth back on track.
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