Treatment of Alopecia
Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for alopecia areata, although there are some forms of treatment that can be suggested by health care providers to help hair re-grow more quickly.
The most common form of alopecia areata treatment is the use of corticosteroids, powerful anti-inflammatory drugs that can suppress the immune system. These can be administered through local injections (most common), topical ointment application or orally.
Other medications that can be prescribed that either promote hair growth or affect the immune system include Minoxidil, Anthralin, SADBE and DPCP. Although some of these may help with the re-growth of hair, they cannot prevent the formation of new bald patches. Some people turn to alternative treatment methods such as acupuncture and aromatherapy, although there is little, if any, evidence to support these treatments.
The use of photochemotherapy is supported by some studies and presents a potential alternative for patients unable or unwilling to use systemic or invasive therapies.
In addition to its aesthetic aspect, hair affords a degree of protection against the elements. People with alopecia areata who miss the protective qualities of hair may wish to:
- Wear sunscreen if exposed to the sun
- Wear wraparound glasses to protect the eyes from the sun and debris which the eyebrows and eyelashes would normally defend against
- Use headwear such as hats, wigs and scarves to protect the head from the sun and keep it warm
- Use ointment inside the nose to keep membranes moist and to protect against organisms that are normally trapped by nostril hair.
Alopecia areata does not directly make people sick, nor is it contagious. It can, however, be difficult to adapt to emotionally. For many people, alopecia areata is a traumatic disease which warrants treatment that addresses the emotional aspect of hair loss as well as the hair loss itself.