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Alopecia Areata refers to an autoimmune condition where the body’s own immune system tends to strike the hair follicles at the hair roots this results in fall out of hair, leaving behind smooth, bald patches on the scalp or anywhere else on the body. This disease can affect any healthy individual. One-fifth of patients suffering from Alopecia Areata have a strong family history of this condition. The other causes of this condition are a major trauma, stress, pregnancy, or illness. If the hair loss is limited and is less than 40%, hair usually tends to regrow within a few months. This condition is hence cyclical and variable, and the hair can grow back or fall out at any point in time. Alopecia is not infectious.

Alopecia areata can lead to different types of hair loss. Each of these types has a different name: >

  • Alopecia areata is the hair loss that occurs in patches.
  • Alopecia totalis is when a person loses all the hair on the scalp – 5% of people
  • Alopecia Universalis is the condition when one loses all hair on the body.
  • There is no cure for alopecia areata. Hair can re-grow on its own though. Treatment can, however, help in the re-growth of hair more quickly.
  • A dermatologist may prescribe one or more of the following medications help your hair re-grow even quicker.

Corticosteroids: This class of medicine is known to suppress the immune system and is usually given as an injection, into the places with the signs of hair loss. The corticosteroid is then slowly absorbed from the site of injection to the local tissue and shows its effect. This medication suppresses the T-cell attack on the follicles of the hair. For adults, corticosteroids form the first line of treatment. These injections are given every 3 to 6 weeks. Hair growth begins about 4 weeks after the treatment is initiated.

Another treatment is topical corticosteroids that are applied directly to the skin. It can be in the form of a cream, ointment. The medication is applied to bare or bald spots. This treatment option works best for children that involve three months of treatments before there are signs of hair regrowth. It needs maintenance therapy to restrict the effects of alopecia.

Seldom, are patients put on Systemic steroids as these tend to have certain side effects, this may, however, be a treatment choice for patients who have multiple bald spots.

Minoxidil: it is a hair re-growth medicine. Minoxidil 5%, is quite helpful in some patients to re-grow their hair. It is safe for both children and adults. Patients should apply it twice in a day to the scalp, brows, or beard. New hair starts growing in around 3 months. this medicine is often used in conjunction with another treatment. The common Side effects of using Minoxidil are scalp irritation and unwanted hair growth on the other body parts adjacent to the scalp such as forehead or face.

Diphencyprone (DPCP): This medicine for alopecia is applied directly to the bald skin. Application of this medication results in mild allergic reaction marked by redness, swelling, and itching. This allergic reaction fools the immune system, thus making it send the white blood cells to the surface of the scalp. This attacks the inflammation and prevents the hair follicles from going to resting phase and stimulates the scalp hair to regrow. Immunotherapy treatments can take up to 3 months for the hair to start re-growing.

Patients often get more than one treatment at a time. A mix of two or more treatments often boosts better results.