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Can You Treat Alopecia?

By: Jody Ehrhardt - Updated: 23 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
Alopecia Hair Loss Autoimmune Alopecia

Alopecia is a disease that causes hair loss on the scalp and sometimes on the entire body. This hair loss is a result of an autoimmune reaction of the skin. The hair loss usually begins in small patches on the scalp but can progress to the rest of the body.

Can Alopecia be Treated?

Currently there is no known cure for alopecia. In some cases, the lost hair will begin to grow back naturally and, in other cases, medical treatment can lead to the regrowth of hair.

While alopecia treatments do not cure the condition, they can stimulate the affected hair follicles and lead to healing and the growth of new hair. The effectiveness of alopecia treatment depends on the severity of the condition, the area of the body most affected by the disease, and the age of the person being treated.

There are two main types of alopecia treatments: those for mild alopecia and those for severe alopecia. Mild alopecia is defined by hair loss that affects less than 50% of the scalp. Severe alopecia is defined by a loss of at least 50% of the hair or more. Due to the lower extent of the hair loss, treatments for mild alopecia are more effective than those for severe cases of the condition.

Treatment Options for Mild Alopecia

There are three main courses of treatment for mild alopecia that have been shown to work effectively. These treatments include the use of a psoriasis cream known as Anthralin, the application of a topical minoxidil solution, and the injection of cortisone shots into the affected areas of skin.

Anthralin cream is a synthetic medication that can be applied to the patches of skin that are suffering from hair loss in order to promote hair follicle stimulation. Since this medication can be very irritating to the skin, application should last only 30 minutes, then the cream should be washed away thoroughly. After about 12 weeks of treatments sufferers should see an improvement in renewed hair growth.

Minoxidil is an effective medication for treating alopecia. However, the results of this treatment can be boosted when used in combination with other treatment methods. In this treatment option, a solution of 2 to 5% minoxidil is applied twice daily to the affected skin. While this treatment works on many types of alopecia, it has been shown to be most effective for hair loss that involves the scalp.

The most common type of alopecia treatment is the injection of cortisone. In this procedure small amounts of cortisone are injected multiple times into different areas of the affected skin. Although this treatment has been shown to promote hair growth in balding areas, it does not keep other areas of hair loss from appearing on the skin.

Treatment Options for Severe Alopecia

For more severe cases of alopecia, more aggressive treatment is usually needed. In these cases, cortisone pills can be given in addition to the treatments for mild alopecia to increase their effectiveness. When these pills are taken regularly along with cortisone shots, the application of topical minoxidil, or the application of Anthralin cream hair growth is boosted and better results are seen.

Another option for the treatment of severe alopecia is the use of topical immunotherapy. In this procedure a topical agent is applied to the skin that causes an allergic reaction. This reaction, also known as allergic contact dermatitis, can shock the hair follicles out of their dormant phase and produce renewed hair growth in some individuals.

Although alopecia can be treated the options are not guaranteed to work for everyone. When alopecia is resistant to treatment individuals are encouraged to check out other options for dealing with their condition such as Hair Transplant Surgery or Wigs.

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I was diagnosed as a case of Graves disease 3 years ago for which I underwent total thyroidectomy and now I am on oral eltroxine 150 Ug/day and thyroid functions are normalized. Since the time of diagnosis till now (3 years), I have progressive alopecia what is the best management ?
Rasha - 23-Aug-12 @ 8:52 PM
The above is rubbish. Minoxidil is for hereditary hair loss not patchy alopecia areata. I see this same bad advice being given on many websites. Rogaine (minoxidil) can cause further hair loss and also scalp irritation, inflammation, If you decide to use Rogaine to treat your alopecia use only a very small amount and only on the bald area. Do not let Rogaine onto the roots of your helathy hair as it will make them fall out. Monitor the area closely and if you see the path getting bigger or have any itching, redness or skin flaking then stop immediately. Also do not use large amoutns of Rogaine as it will be absorbed into your blood stream and become systemic. You should also discuss using Rogaine with your doctor before starting with it and ensure that it is okay to use with any steriod cream you may be perscribed. I am talking from a bad experience of losign 80% of my hair due to Minoxidil.
Minoxidil Warning Fo - 22-Apr-11 @ 2:10 PM
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