Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease that causes your immune system to attack your healthy cells. In alopecia areata, the immune system attacks hair follicles of the skin that make new hairs. The loss of hair can be sudden or gradual.
The condition affects eyelashes, eyebrows, and other body hairs. Severe cases of alopecia areata can also result in complete baldness. While it won’t permanently damage your hair follicles, it can create permanent bald patches on your scalp.
Different treatment options depend on the type of alopecia you have and how much hair loss you’re experiencing. Although there is no scientifically proven cure for this condition, treatment can help manage alopecia areata symptoms and promote regrowth. It is best to begin this treatment immediately after diagnosing an alopecia areata patch.
According to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation, alopecia areata affects 6.8 million Americans and 147 million people worldwide. The disease is rare, and there are no known risk factors. It’s not contagious and can’t be spread from person to person. Scientists have not found the exact cause of this condition; however, it’s believed to be caused by genetic and environmental factors.
Studies show that visible alopecia areata symptoms occur after adolescence or early adulthood, affecting both genders and races.
Treatment Options For Alopecia Areata
The treatment options for Alopecia Areata vary from one person to another, depending on several factors. The first step is to visit a doctor, who can determine the severity of your hair loss, its cause, if appropriate medication is needed, and what other treatment alternatives may be available.
Treatment options for alopecia areata include;
This treatment involves applying small amounts of a chemical allergen to the skin to allow the body to become immune to it. This treatment stimulates the immune response leading to hair growth. The medication can be used for alopecia areata and other types of hair loss. Topical immunotherapy is effective in treating alopecia areata.
While it’s not a cure, it can help with hair regrowth and reduce symptoms of the condition.
These medicines are the first line of treatment for Alopecia Areata and can be administered through injection or orally. Corticosteroids work by reducing inflammation in the body. In people with alopecia areata, this inflammation causes immune cells to attack healthy skin cells surrounding hair follicles in the scalp, which causes hair loss. Corticosteroids work by blocking this immune response from occurring. This treatment has been used for years in treating alopecia areata.
Injectable corticosteroids are more effective than oral ones and are injected directly into the scalp or other affected sites on the body to lessen inflammation and stimulate hair growth.
Corticosteroids are commonly used because they’re easy to use and have few side effects. However, your doctor may recommend another treatment option if you don’t respond well to them.
Minoxidil (Rogaine) is another common treatment for Alopecia Areata. It can be used in combination with other treatments or on its own.
Minoxidil is a topical medication that’s applied directly to the scalp. It helps your hair grow back by increasing blood flow to the area and stimulating the growth of new hair follicles.
The treatment involves applying minoxidil to the scalp twice daily for two to four months.
After this initial period, the frequency of application can be reduced to once or twice a day. The time it takes for minoxidil to show results varies from person to person, but most people see results within three months.
FDA has not approved Minoxidil to treat alopecia areata, but studies have shown it to be effective in helping people with alopecia areata in growing back their hair.
Olumiant is an FDA-approved treatment for alopecia areata. It’s administered by IV injection and works by suppressing the immune system, which has been identified as the culprit in this form of hair loss.
Researchers have found that Olumiant works well for many people with Alopecia Areata but not everyone will experience the same results. If you’ve been prescribed Olumiant as part of your treatment plan for AA, talk to your doctor about how often they recommend taking it.
How to stop Alopecia Areata from spreading
Other ways to manage Alopecia areata include;
Avoid harsh shampoos and conditioners that may cause irritation or itching on your scalp.
Avoid using styling products on your scalp (like gel) as much as possible so as not to irritate or inflame an existing patch of Alopecia.
Avoid stress and anxiety. Stress may cause your immune system to overreact and attack your body tissue instead of foreign invaders like bacteria or viruses. This reaction can cause alopecia areata to progress or flare out of control.
Do not use products that contain alcohol or harsh chemicals on your scalp; instead, opt for those made with natural ingredients such as coconut oil or olive oil, which have moisturizing properties which help keep skin supple so that it does not become dry or flaky.
What To Expect During The Clinic Visit
During your clinic, a specialized doctor will ask about the appearance of your hair loss and the duration of symptoms. They may also examine your scalp skin. After hearing your description, they should suggest appropriate treatment and even identify other conditions that could be causing hair loss and can recommend a compounding pharmacy.