Alopecia is the temporary or permanent loss of the hair. It has a number of causes such as stress, hormone changes, poor nutrition, scalp irritation or damage to the hair follicles. One of the most common forms of this disorder is alopecia areata. In this case, hair loss is due to an autoimmune skin disease. Hair may be lost both on the scalp and other areas of the body. Alopecia areata often begins with one or several small, round bald patches on the scalp and can gradually worsen until all the hair is lost.
According to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation, around 4.7 million Americans are affected by alopecia areata. The disease can be unpredictable and although the hair may grow back, hair loss may be cyclical. The course of the disease will vary depending on the individual.
Aromatherapy can offer relief to sufferers of alopecia. In a 1998 study by Isabelle C. Hay, MRCP et al. published in the Archives of Dermatology, 86 patients suffering from alopecia areata were treated with either a carrier oil (either grapeseed or jojoba) containing essential oils such as thyme, lavender, cedarwood and sandalwood or a carrier oil alone. The oils were massaged into each patient’s scalp on a daily basis and after a seven moth period the results showed that the condition of those subjects treated with essential oils had improved more than those treated with a carrier oil alone.
Thyme has a sweet, pungent aroma and is amber in color. This essential oil helps to improve circulation and boost the immune system. It should not be used during pregnancy.
Rosemary has a strong, distinctive smell and is clear and watery oil. It helps to stimulated circulation and to promote hair growth. Rosemary should not be used during pregnancy.
Lavender has a light, fresh aroma. Its essential oil is less viscous than many other oils. It has antibacterial properties, helps to reduce stress and revitalizes the skin. It is one of the few essential oils that are gentle enough to be used neat on the skin without causing irritation.
Cedarwood has a strong woody aroma, similar to that of sandalwood. It has a calming effect and helps to reduce dandruff, relieve itching and reduce oily skin. It should not be used during pregnancy.
Sandalwood has an earthy scent and a golden color. It has the ability to reduce tension as well as soothe dry and itchy skin, reduce inflammation and prevent the production of scars.
If you want to try a soothing essential oil scalp massage to help restore hair growth you can try mixing 3 drops of lavender oil, 2 drops of thyme oil, 2 drops of cedar or sandalwood oil with 5 teaspoons of jojoba, grapeseed, or your favorite carrier oil slightly warmed. Rub the blend into your scalp and wrap your head in a towel. You can leave the oils on your scalp over night, or if you don’t find this comfortable, wash off after a few hours with a mild shampoo.