Alopecia Areata Treatment

Although there are currently no treatments that work for everyone with alopecia areata (AA), some treatments are effective for some people. Depending your age, general health and the extent of hair loss, there are a variety of treatment options available. The main goals of treatment are to block the immune system attack and/or stimulate the regrowth of hair. This can be effective, especially for people with milder forms of the disease (less than 50% hair loss*).

If there is no ‘cure’ for alopecia areata, what good are treatments?

There are a variety of treatments for both mild and severe AA. The aim of treatment is to stop active hair loss and stimulate/aid the regrowing hair.

Treatments for mild alopecia areata

Topical Corticosteroids                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Decreases the inflammation around the hair follicle. Available in a variety of strengths and preparations (such as solutions, lotions, foams, creams, ointments). Here at the èlan clinic we offer a solution based on DNA analysis – for improved results.

Benefits: Studies have shown that there is a reduction of hair loss – with improved regrowth of approx: 25%.

Drawbacks: The effectiveness of some topical corticosteroids is limited by their absorption in the scalp – lotions are a better option than creams or ointments.

Intralesional Corticosteroid Injections                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This method of treatment — the most common form of treatment for AA — uses corticosteroids that are injected into bare patches of skin with a tiny needle. These injections are repeated about every 4 – 6 weeks and are usually administered by a dermatologist (GP referred or private).

Benefits: If new hair growth occurs – this may be visible within 4 weeks. There are few known side effects related to this kind of treatment.

Drawbacks: like all treatments for AA, it does not prevent new hair loss from developing. While there are few reported side effects, temporary depressions (dells) in the skin may result. You may experience slight discomfort from the needle pricks and tingling from the medication, but usually there is no lasting pain or discomfort.

Anthralin/Dithranol Cream                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Also widely used for psoriasis — this is a common form of treatment for AA. Applied to areas of hair loss once a day and then washed off typically after 30 – 60 minutes (or in some cases – several hours).

Benefits: If new hair grows – it is usually visible within 8 – 12 weeks.

Drawbacks: May irritate the skin and cause temporary discolouration.

Minoxidil                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  5% topical minoxidil solution may be applied 1 – 2 times daily, to help stimulate hair to regrow. Minoxidil is not usually effective for AA when used alone, but when applied in combination with topical corticosteroid medications, some may see improved results.

*For those who have more than 50% hair loss on their scalp (or other areas of the body), there are also oral  and topical medications, phototherapy and light treatments available.



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