Many factors can contribute to hair loss. Illness, stress, medication, skin conditions and age are just a few. No matter what the cause, people suffering hair loss want a quick, reliable way to re-grow their hair. Unfortunately there isn’t a single cure-all, and because hair takes time to grow, patience is required no matter what treatment you use. The number of products claiming to re-grow hair may well surpass the causes of loss. Surgical, herbal and chemical remedies all make similar assertions about producing a thick, full head of hair. Some involve drastic measures or require great financial investment, yet a simple, inexpensive solution is available at the local store and may even be in your own backyard. That solution is aloe.
Well known for treating burns and skin irritations, aloe has also been shown to have a positive effect in stopping hair loss and promoting new hair growth. Its benefit appears to be mainly in treating the scalp, and various conditions that affect the scalp, which further reinforces its capacity as a skin treatment. Understanding certain scalp conditions will help with understanding how aloe helps alleviate these problems and assists in returning to healthy hair growth.
Dandruff is a common condition where dead skin cells flake off from the scalp at a much higher and faster rate than normal. The scalp may be itchy and irritated, or the flakiness may build up on the scalp, creating patches of dried and dead skin. There are many shampoos available to treat dandruff using chemicals, however some chemicals could cause further irritation to sensitive skin.
Seborrheic dermatitis is a condition that may appear similar to dandruff, although irritation is much greater. The natural oil known as sebum is beneficial to a healthy scalp by keeping it moisturized and preventing dryness. If there is an overproduction of sebum the scalp becomes oily. Overproduction can be a physiological condition, or may be caused by stress, or fungal or yeast infections. The excess oil on the scalp mixes with dirt and dust from the air and creates patches of scaly buildup. Hair follicles become blocked and swollen, and the scalp then becomes irritated and itchy with raised red patches. Large areas of skin can be affected.
Both these conditions, through clogging the pores and irritating hair follicles, can affect hair growth, at least slowing it or making it weaker, with seborrheic dermatitis specifically known to cause hair loss. On the other end of the spectrum, dry scalp can cause hair loss as well. This condition may be caused by too little sebum, or by external factors such as frequent shampooing with harsh products, too many chemical treatments, overuse of blow-dryers, dry weather conditions or not drinking enough water. Symptoms are similar to dandruff with itching and irritation, while hair also becomes brittle and may fall out. Treating with aloe can relieve these conditions, and as a result, help hair follicles return to healthy, normal production.
Aloe’s natural composition provides its healing properties. The primary active component is choline salicylate, an anti-inflammatory substance. It reduces swelling and pain, which is especially beneficial in conditions like seborrheic dermatitis, where irritation can be significant. Mucopolysaccharides, also found in aloe, are a source of chondroitin sulfate. This substance has been shown to help heal certain wounds, and so may assist in healing scalp conditions, though such claims are speculative. Additionally, mucopolysaccharides have moisturizing properties that can benefit dry scalp, and some studies say they also improve circulation; another aspect necessary to healthy hair growth.
A third substance, choline, is a natural nutrient that offers additional moisturizing properties. An appropriate moisture level helps relieve dryness and itching, which in turn helps relieve swelling and irritation. Once applied, aloe must remain on the skin for a period of time to receive the full benefits. In addition to its healing properties, aloe also acts as a barrier; a protective shield in preventing further irritation.
While shampoos with high aloe content may help by cleansing more gently than other products, they are quickly rinsed away and so may not offer a great deal of healing activity. Conditioners might help more than shampoos if they’re massaged in and left on the scalp, but most information suggests that aloe gel alone should be applied directly to the scalp and left on long enough to dry before being rinsed out. With regular use over time, aloe’s soothing and healing properties can help alleviate symptoms of scalp irritation. However, it’s important to understand the underlying causes of any scalp condition, such as poor nutrition, infection or stress, and to treat those causes directly. With relief from irritation and a healthier scalp, hair loss should slow and hair follicles will have a chance to return to normal production.
Purchasing aloe gel can offer the greatest convenience, unless there is a plentiful supply of plants available for harvesting. It’s important to check the ingredients and the level of aloe in a purchased product, as the addition of harsh chemicals or a low percentage of aloe will not offer real benefits. If 100 percent aloe gel is not available, look for a product with at least 97 or 98 percent aloe content.
Other possibilities for treatment include mixing pure aloe with an existing conditioner or shampoo. This may lessen the effect of chemicals by lowering their concentration, although a better choice might be simply to find a higher quality product. A frequently mentioned mixture of aloe, coconut milk and wheat germ oil could provide additional benefits in soothing and moisturizing the scalp. Remember that it will take time to see results.
With consistent use, noticeable relief of scalp symptoms could occur within a couple of weeks. Hair loss could be reduced within a couple of months, and by then you might also see new growth.