Hair loss treatment: Massaging essential oils into the scalp shown to improve alopecia

Hair loss: Dr Ranj discusses causes of male pattern baldness

Hair loss, also known as alopecia, can be hard to halt because you are often facing fierce opposition. Hair loss is mainly caused by hereditary conditions that kick in as the ageing process gets underway. Despite these colossal challenges, research has alighted on some surprising solutions.

Aromatherapy is an appealing option for those seeking to avoid invasive procedures and drug treatments that may have adverse side effects.

Researchers sought to investigate the efficacy of aromatherapy in the treatment of patients with alopecia areata.

In alopecia areata, one or more round bald patches appear suddenly, most often on the scalp.

Eighty-six patients diagnosed with alopecia areata were recruited for the seven month-long study.

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Eighty-six patients were randomised into two groups – the active group massaged essential oils (thyme, rosemary, lavender, and cedarwood) in a mixture of carrier oils (jojoba and grape seed) into their scalp daily.

The control group used only carrier oils for their massage, also daily.

Treatment success was evaluated on sequential photographs by two dermatologists independently.

What did the researchers find out?

Nineteen (44 percent) of 43 patients in the active group showed improvement compared with six (15 percent) of 41 patients in the control group.

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The degree of improvement on photographic assessment was “significant”, the researchers wrote.

“The results show aromatherapy to be a safe and effective treatment for alopecia areata,” they concluded.

Conventional treatments for hair loss

There are other things you can try if your hair loss is causing you distress. But most treatments aren’t available on the NHS, so you’ll have to pay for them.

According to the NHS, finasteride and minoxidil are the main treatments for male pattern baldness.

Male pattern baldness is a permanent type of hair loss that usually runs in the family.

“Minoxidil can also be used to treat female pattern baldness. Women shouldn’t use finasteride,” warns the NHS.

Some wigs are available on the NHS, but you may have to pay unless you qualify for financial help.

Other hair loss treatments include:

  • Steroid injection – injections given into bald patches
  • Steroid creams – cream applied to bald patches
  • Immunotherapy – chemical applied to bald patches
  • Light treatment – shining ultraviolet light on bald patches
  • Tattooing – tattoo used to look like short hair and eyebrows
  • Hair transplant – hair cells are moved to thinning patches
  • Scalp reduction surgery – sections of scalp with hair are stretched and stitched together
  • Artificial hair transplant – surgery to implant artificial hairs.

It is important to note that some of the above treatments may not be available on the NHS.

Additional support

Losing hair can be upsetting. For many people, hair it is an essential part of their identity.

“If your hair loss is causing you distress, your GP may be able to help you get some counselling,” advises the NHS.

You may also benefit from joining a support group, or speaking to other people in the same situation on online forums.

Try these online support groups:

  • Alopecia UK
  • Alopecia Awareness.

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