My alopecia areata journey has been like a yo-yo: ups and downs, swings and roundabouts, zero hair to full hair growth to nothingness once more. I’ve gone from quick regrowth after Nioxin to having a teeny patch, then watching that bald spot claim my head again. But over the years I’ve learned how to stop alopecia areata from spreading; or at least, how to minimize damage.
Hair loss can be a long and frustrating journey. But in post, I’ll share tips to make it a teeny weeny bit easier. Hopefully.
Emma’s ‘not a doctor’ disclaimer
Hi there, I’m an alopecian, I’m not a doctor! Any advice I give is based on my own research and personal experiences. This site is however reader-supported. When you buy through external links, I may earn a tiny affiliate commission. Learn more here.
Alopecia areata, or patchy hair loss, is an autoimmune condition. It ranges in severity – from a small patch to near-complete hair loss (like I have) – depending on how big your patches are.
Although alopecia areata is often genetic, there are typically other causes involved. These hair loss triggers include:
Alopecia areata varies from person to person. That’s what makes any autoimmune disease, like hair loss, such a tricky thing to treat. And it’s why I’m against the ‘blanket cures’ or topical corticosteroids offered by many dermatologists.
I don’t believe in taking steroid injections or a harsh topical cream without looking at the root cause of the problem (which likely, stems from your immune cells).
Yes, hair loss is the effect…but what about the cause?!
LA Says: That’s why I’d address the above triggers first, to see how you might take a holistic approach to treating your alopecia areata patches. Then you could follow up with products to support an optimal scalp environment, nourish the hair follicles and promote hair growth. (More on those in a sec!)
I’ve said it plenty: there isn’t a miracle cure for alopecia areata. But there are ways to reduce the extent of patchy hair loss, or even promote hair growth.
The below tips worked to stop alopecia areata from spreading in my experience; they may or may not work for you. (And if something else works for you, feel free to share it in the comments!)
Psst…If I notice my alopecia areata patches getting bigger again, I’m likely neglecting one of these steps. So I make my way through the checklist to stop that spread!
A game-changer for someone with alopecia areata: you can potentially stop hair loss, or get it growing back, with the food you eat. It’s also one of the trickiest things to do, which is why I’ve never stuck to a long-term AIP diet!
As I explain in this post, what we consume has a HUGE effect on those of us with an autoimmune disease. A poor diet in general should be a red flag as good gut health will affect the entire body. Plus, certain inflammatory foods – like sugar, gluten, dairy, eggs and soy – can trigger an autoimmune response, resulting in hair loss.
When I went off these foods, my shedding stopped within a few weeks, I had hair growth in my alopecia areata patches after a month…but then I fell off the wagon. Because I ended up stressing so much about what I could/couldn’t eat, the AIP diet was doing my immune system more harm than good.
Luckily, there are less restrictive versions you can try for hair loss: like temporarily cutting out certain foods to stop your alopecia areata patches spreading.
The supplement industry is an intimidating place; especially for conditions like hair loss. It’s extensive, and expensive, and we’ve no idea if the pills are helping – or if they’re just placebos packaged by big-pharma who prey on vulnerability.
I’ve shelled out a small fortune on supplements – but when I went to a functional medicine doctor and got specific tests on my gut microbiome, I saw the benefits of taking the right supplements for my individual needs.
Apparently, I couldn’t process B vitamins from my food properly, even though I was eating plenty of spinach, kale, lentils and beef. I needed a decent B complex to absorb these nutrients.
Now, I don’t think everyone needs a truckload of pills to function. BUT if you can’t absorb the nutrients from your food, or if you have an autoimmune condition like alopecia areata, or if you’re not hitting your daily dose of essential vitamins and minerals, you might need an extra boost.
At a minimum, try fish oil (or a vegan equivalent), magnesium and Vitamin D to boost your skin ‘n’ scalp health and reduce hair loss. Also, a good probiotic is a must for easing inflammation, as certain foods or medication can have adverse side effects on the immune system.
Or, instead of taking a zillion different supplements, you could find one that covers all bases. Folexin is just one of these all-encompassing pills, ideal for hair growth: check out my full review here.
Inflammation doesn’t just come from a food intolerance, or as a response to illness or viruses. It can come from work stress, family obligations, environment…even from exercise!
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying you shouldn’t exercise. Moving around is great, it gets our endorphins going, puts us in a better frame of mind and keeps us physically fit. And I’m reluctant to talk about ‘right’ vs ‘wrong’ exercise – it’s more like doing the exercise that best fits you and your immune cells in a given situation.
In general, high-impact activities aren’t ideal for someone experiencing an inflammation flare-up or acute stress. Because they raise adrenaline levels and the hormone known as cortisol, which can trigger an autoimmune response (in this case, it triggers alopecia areata, or patchy hair loss).
So it’s better, if you’re feeling anxious or wound-up, to try a grounding, soothing form of exercise: like swimming, walking or yoga. It doesn’t mean you can’t challenge yourself – but focus on something where you can breathe deeply and calm your nervous system again.
I’m always bigging up yoga, meditation and mindfulness. They’ve made a massive difference in my life; not just in slowing down the rate of my hair loss, but in helping me accept myself as I am!
So if you’re watching your alopecia areata patches spread and fretting more than ever, try one of these stress-relievers. Even if it’s just 5 minutes a day.
Some hair loss products have helped stop my alopecia areata from spreading. But I’ve made my own treatments, too.
Whether it’s the placebo effect or the the act of massaging my hair follicles every day that stimulates circulation…when I remember to apply these treatments, I’ve seen results pretty quickly!
I write about more natural treatments for alopecia areata in this post and cover some of my favorite oils to promote hair growth here. I prefer them to chemical-heavy medical treatments as I didn’t love the headaches they gave me!
Still, while the natural approach has worked for me at times, I’m not consistent enough to have seen full hair regrowth. I’ve noticed a decrease in hair loss, I’ve even gotten white vellus hairs back in my alopecia areata patches. But I’ve never managed to keep up a nightly routine to see my hair regrow for good.
But, if you’re a more dedicated DIY type, this could be a great way to stop your alopecia areata patches from spreading!
This ties in with the mindfulness aspect; it’s also why I haven’t been that consistent with treatments. Because once I accepted my hair loss, I felt a HUGE sense of relief. And it helped me to not keep checking the mirror, in the hopes I’d see hair regrowth.
When I was doing all those DIY treatments, I’d peer at my head at every opportunity, wondering if my hair follicles had sprouted since the day before or had my hair loss – gasp! – gotten worse. So I made a conscious effort to avoid these check-ups. To just let my alopecia areata do its thing. And I felt much lighter.
So try not to stress about your alopecia areata patches too much: that’s not going to help your case! Instead, get on with living your life…and maybe use that mirror-gazing time to keep a daily gratitude list instead. Then you can remind yourself about all the things that you do have, instead of focusing on the hair you don’t.
If you’ve tried my 5 tips for stopping your alopecia areata patches spreading and need extra help, I’d highly recommend these hair loss products.
Sometimes blending in feels like the simplest thing to do. And there are many days when I’m less of a “proud baldie” and more of a lady in need of a cover-up! So these options are for times when you just can’t deal with your alopecia areata patches.
I’ve been wearing these for years and found such beautiful materials in my hometown of Hoi An, Vietnam, that I started selling my own. Now I make them in 100% hypoallergenic bamboo, cotton and jersey cotton, in a range of vibrant colors, on my shop page.
Not sure how to tie them? I’ve got you. Check out my tutorials here!
I hope these tips help you stop alopecia areata from spreading. But if there’s anything I’ve missed, which you’ve done to boost your immune system, prevent patch creep or tackle hair loss, let me know! Share your experiences in the comments box.
I know how tempting it is to peek at those alopecia areata patches every five minutes. But try to resist the urge – stressing about growth or shedding is not what you need right now! The hair-growth cycle will resume when your body’s good and ready. In the meantime, look after yourself – body and mind – as best as you can.
Love and hugs,
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Alopecian. Yoga Teacher. Copywriter. Here to share information, offer support and show people the adventures that can lie in hair loss. I’m proud to have alopecia and I want to help others embrace their baldness, too!
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