A hedgehog named Nelson whose spines all fell out is thought to have lost them due to a stressful incident – a state of affairs not too dissimilar to some cases of hair loss.
Staff at the Foxy Lodge Wildlife Rescue Centre in Great Yarmouth say the hedgehog’s baldness is down to “stress-related alopecia” and that he must have endured some kind of trauma in the wild. After a year of TLC, none of his spines have grown back.
Not far fetched
Likening his condition to alopecia – by which most people mean the autoimmune disorder Alopecia Areata – is not at all far-fetched, as stress is frequently named as a likely trigger behind the onset of the condition. Other triggers include local skin injuries, allergies and seasonal changes. Investigations into the likely causes of Alopecia Areata, which leads to sudden, patchy hair loss, and its more extreme related conditions Alopecia Totalis and Alopecia Universalis which cause complete baldness of the head and from head to toe respectively, frequently point to either long-term stress, shock or sudden trauma.
To try and encourage Nelson’s spines to grow back, staff at the centre (who have worked with bald hedgehogs before) rubbed him with almond oil every day – but to no avail. While Nelson, pictured, seemed to like his daily pampering, it did literally nothing to bring back his spines. The same would be true in cases of hair loss in humans: rubbing almond oil into the skin can help keep it in good condition, but it will not cause hair to regrow. This is why there is a noted difference between hair care products, which are designed to keep the hair clean and healthy, and pharmaceutical hair loss treatments which are designed to promote regrowth for people suffering from hair loss conditions.
In cases of Alopecia Areata, different biological forces are at play – hair loss in these instances is thought to be caused by inflammation caused by the body’s immune system attacking healthy cells in the scalp in the mistaken belief that they are foreign. In such cases, Belgravia takes an approach whereby topical applications of high strength minoxidil can be used to help encourage new hair to regrow. Sadly human hair loss treatments are not suitable for use on animals though – sorry, Nelson!
Treatment courses do also typically try and ensure that the scalp is nourished and healthy so that new hairs have the best possible chances of regrowing. If Nelson’s spines did start to grow back then the process would likely be helped by the fact that his skin is in tip-top condition. Likewise, mineral and vitamin-rich supplements such as Belgravia’s Hair Vitalics can help ensure that human scalps are healthy, too.
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.