How Is Alopecia Areata Treated

Although there are no cures for alopecia areata or drugs which have been approved for its treatment, many people find that other medications that are used for other purposes can assist with their hair re-growth, even if it is only temporary.

However anyone using these treatments should bear in mind that although these treatments can help hair re-growth, they will not prevent any new patches from occurring or cure the disease itself.

Always consult your doctor or healthcare provider for advice.    

Listed below are examples of medications that can assist with hair re-growth: 

Local injections– steroids are injected into the hairless patches on the scalp, brow and beard, and can help increase hair re-growth, although this is not successful in everybody.

The hair re-growth usually takes approximately four weeks.  

Small amounts of cortisone are injected into affected areas. This method avoids the side effects of oral long term use.

There are however, certain side effects that can be experienced such as transient pain, mild swelling and occasional changes with pigmentation.  

The injections are painful so they are not a preferred method of treatment, especially in children.

Also the injections need to be repeated on a monthly basis. They work by the cortisone removing bad cells so the hair can be allowed to grow back.

Unfortunately a major drawback is that large areas cannot be treated because of the amount of pain involved. Also similar side effects to oral medication can become present if taken too frequently.  

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Corticosteroids– are powerful drugs similar to cortisol hormone which is a hormone produced by the body.

They are anti-inflammatory drugs and suppress the immune system if administered orally. These drugs are used to treat a number of autoimmune types of diseases such as alopecia areata.

They are be taken orally for extensive alopecia, however there is a risk of cataracts and hypertension, so these are only used over a shorter periods of time.  

Corticosteroids can also be taken in ointments or creams which contain steroids and these are rubbed directly onto the bald patch.

They are less traumatic than injections although they are also not as effective.

Ointments and creams such as these work best when they are taken in conjunction with other topical treatments such as anthralin or minoxidil.  

Minoxidil (example of brand name) – solution can promote the growth of hair where the hair follicle has become small and has not grown to its full potential.

It is also a FDA approved medication for treating male and female pattern hair loss, along with alopecia areata.

The solution can be used twice a day to help hair re-growth in children as well as adults. The hair normally appears around the 12th week.  

Anthralin – is a tar-like synthetic substance the changes the immune function in the skin that has been affected.

It can be applied for twenty to sixty minutes to avoid an irritation to the skin. New hair usually appears between eight and twelve weeks.

Anthralin can be used in conjunction with other treatments such as corticosteroid injections and minoxidil.


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