In order to cure a disease, you need to address the causes that created the disorder. Not much is known about the Alopecia Universalis causes because a very small percentage of the population even has it. It is somewhere around 1% of the population.
As I research the causes of Alopecia Universalis, I have taken into consideration the causes of Alopecia Areata as well. Alopecia Areata is the milder form of Alopecia Universalis and is often how the disease presents itself in the initial phases.
Hopefully, understanding the causes of Alopecia Universalis will help me achieve my goal to treat alopecia universalis naturally.
An unknown cause
Alopecia universalis is the advanced form of alopecia areata. Alopecia areata starts with round patches of hair loss. The most commonly accepted cause is an autoimmune condition. This means that a person’s immune system is attacking the follicles, but it doesn’t explain why.
Genetic studies have discovered that Alopecia Universalis and Alopecia Areata are associated with several immune-related genes. This makes perfect sense to me. My sister and I both have multiple autoimmune conditions. The presentation of AU and AA are ultimately a combination of multiple genetic and environmental factors. Genes create a predisposition to the condition, but it doesn’t mean that it will develop.
In my case, my alopecia did not even show up until my thirties. Some factors that may contribute to the onset of hair loss include a viral infection, changing hormones, and emotional stress.
Vitamin D deficiency
Some studies have found that there is a correlation between Alopecia Areata and vitamin D deficiency. Whether dietary intake of vitamin D will alleviate the symptoms of alopecia is still relatively unknown.
I have read some patients who report online that they were able to regrow their hair within a short amount of time by adding vitamin D to their diets. While this is difficult to confirm, it is something to take into consideration as there are many publications associating vitamin D deficiency with hair loss. My own blood tests have indicated a vitamin D deficiency and I’m working on correcting it.
Biotin is an important coenzyme for carboxylation reactions. In some very rare cases of deficiency, patients may develop hair loss. Genetic abnormalities or malabsorption caused by excessive intake of avidin, which is rich in raw eggs, can result in a biotin deficiency.
Biotin supplementation has been helpful in the treatment of brittle nails, or onychoschisis. A study including biotin supplementation administered zinc, topical clobetasol, and 20 mg of biotin a day showed more complete regrowth in the treatment group (33.3% of patients) compared to the control group over a year-long period.
Unfortunately, combination therapy prevents any conclusions about the efficacy of supplementing just biotin.
A zinc deficiency
Zinc is a trace element that has an integral role in the hair growth cycle. Hair follicles must have zinc to produce new hair shafts during the growth phase of the cycle. When a person’s zinc intake is low, it can cause poor immune function and hormone imbalances including hair loss.
This type of deficiency triggers the temporary hair loss Telogen Effluvium. This hair loss presents as shedding all over the scalp compared to the circular patches of alopecia areata. An Egyptian study shows that zinc levels may also influence Alopecia Areata.
The study examined fifty patients compared to healthy control subjects. Twenty-five of the test subjects were newly diagnosed with alopecia areata. They measured the serum zinc levels and compared the mean results with the control groups. The study found correlations between zinc level and the extent of AA in all patients.
Patients with AA had significantly lower zinc levels than the control group. The patients with resistant alopecia areata showed significantly lower zinc levels than the newly diagnosed patients.
After reading up on the causes of alopecia universalis and alopecia areata, I realize that it may not simply be a vitamin D deficiency that is causing my disease. I probably have a few different micronutrient deficiencies that I need to correct. I don’t wish to add more supplements to my diet. I prefer to eat whole foods, so I will look for some whole food sources of zinc and biotin to add to my diet.