The treatment of Alopecia areata is different from other types of hair loss. Alopecia areata is the result of an attack of one’s own immune system on the hair follicles that arrest the hair growth. The hair follicles however do not usually lose its capacity to produce the hair. Normally the hair may re appear within a year though there are chances of repeated hair loss and recurrence of the symptoms.
The treatment of alopecia areata
There is no approved treatment or an approved drug for this syndrome. Various medications suggested for other problems can help the hair growth. The treatment suggested for the alopecia areata does not guarantee the stopping of further development of patches in future, and as such gives only a temporary solution to the problem.
Such being the case the patient may well be advised to observe the situation in case the hair loss happened to be small and insignificant. The lost hair in such mild cases may grow again under normal conditions that may not take more than a year or so.
The most common treatment for the disease is by corticosteroids either applied as local injections or oral corticosteroids or even as skin ointment. These are powerful anti-inflammatory drugs, similar to the cortisol hormone produced by the human body and is often used in the auto immune diseases.
Injections are administered directly to the affected scalp area within I cm apart once every 4 to 6 weeks and is found to be very effective for the re growth of the lost hair usually within 4 weeks. The treatment by injection is preferred to reduce the dosage. In case of oral application the side effects become more visible and prominent. However the corticosteroids injections are not suggested in large areas of hair loss as the amount of injection become too high leading to side effects as in the case of oral intake resorted to in severe cases of hair loss. Yet another way of treatment by the corticosteroid is by way of ointments. This is normally suggested for children and as the treatment by the ointment is not as effective as injections the same is applied along with other medicines like minoxidil or anthralin.
Two other popular medicines that are successfully being used in the treatment of alopecia are Minoxidil and Anthralin. The former approved by FDA is used in the male and female pattern hair losses. Topical minoxidil helps grow hair in several conditions and also found to be useful in the treatment of alopecia areata. The suggested treatment is normally for a period of 12 weeks, and by the end of that period new hair starts to grow. The solution has to be applied twice daily.
Anthralin on the other hand is an FDA approved medicine for psoriasis. This drug is also successfully being used in the treatment of alopecia areata. It is applied for about 20 to 60 minutes on the scalp to avoid irritation, and the results usually manifest within 8 to 12 weeks of medication. Other medicines commonly used are sulfasalazine, topical sensitizers and oral cyclosporine.
Another treatment for the Alopecia areata is photo chemotherapy where the patient is given a light sensitive drug known as psoralen either orally or tropically and then exposed to an ultra violet light source. The treatment is also known as PUVA. One of the drawbacks of the treatment is its reported risk of developing skin cancer.
Besides the above, there are many alternative therapies like herbal and indigenous medicines available for the treatment of the Alopecia areata. One is well advised to consult a physician before taking any such treatment.