Alopecia Treatment: Exploring Your Options

Dinesh Patel
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Alopecia treatment for people with hair loss

Alopecia or hair loss can impact your scalp and your whole body.

Hair fall can occur due to genes, hormonal changes, medical conditions, or aging.

Some people get temporary hair loss, whereas, for others, it can be permanent.

As per NYU Langone, more than 80% of males and nearly 50% of females experience significant hair loss in their lifetime.

There are many treatment options available that you can discuss with your doctor. A good treatment plan can help you fight hair loss.

Continue reading this article to learn more before pursuing any Alopecia treatment.

Alopecia can be broadly classified into 6 types-
  • Areata
  • Androgenetic
  • Fibrosing
  • Diffuse
  • Scarring
  • Universal

Diagnosis

The treatment of Alopecia depends on the severity and the cause of the hair loss.

As many types of Alopecia have similar symptoms, a correct diagnosis is necessary for effective treatment.

To get an accurate diagnosis, it helps to see a board-certified dermatologist.

These doctors have in-depth knowledge about the many causes of hair loss and experience treating the diverse causes.

Your doctor will likely ask questions about your diet, lifestyle, and family history. They may even recommend some tests for correct diagnosis.

Here are some tests your doctor may order-
  • Blood Test: A blood test can help doctors identify underlying medical conditions if any.
  • Scalp Biopsy: After examining a scalp removed from your head under the microscope can help to know the reason for hair loss.
  • Hormone Test: Many hormones, from Thyroid to Testosterone, may affect your hair.
  • Pull test: Your doctor gently pulls a few dozen hairs to observe. It can help them determine the stage of the shedding process.

Is Alopecia curable?

There is no cure for Alopecia. There are, however, a lot of medicines and treatments that can help you fight this condition.

Consult a dermatologist for a treatment plan. An effective treatment plan could include dietary changes, lifestyle changes, and medications.

Treatment

There are many treatment options for you if you have hair loss. From medicines to surgeries, here are a few Alopecia treatments:

Medications

It is vital to address the underlying cause before taking any medicines for Alopecia treatment.

If you are experiencing hair loss due to the side effects of any medicine, you should check with your doctor.

Some medicines that doctors prescribe for Alopecia treatment are:

Minoxidil

A woman using Minoxidil as a topical solution. Source: megaflopp_from_Getty Images
Minoxidil is available as a topical solution

Minoxidil is a hair growth stimulator. It is also available under the brand name Rogaine.

It is a vasodilator medicine that widens the blood vessels in your scalp. By doing so, it increases the blood flow to the hair follicles.

Minoxidil is available in liquid and shampoo form. It stimulates hair growth, slows hair loss, or does both.

John Browning, MD, recommends applying Minoxidil to a dry scalp twice daily.

He is a dermatologist with Texas Dermatology and Laser Specialists. Dr. Browning is also a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Many individuals prefer to use foam on wet hair.

It may take at least six months of treatment to stop further hair loss and start hair regrowth. It could take several months to see if the treatment is effective.

The benefits of Minoxidil decrease if you stop using it. Because Minoxidil helps you keep your hair thick, some hairs may appear and feel thinner. 

You’ll also notice that you’re losing more hair over time.

Your doctor may also give you Oral Minoxidil to help stop hair loss, but the FDA has not approved it.

Products with MinoxidilApprox. Cost
Tugain 5% $20.54
Tugain Solution 10$87.30
Hair 4u 2%$19.80
Hair 4u 5%$21.61

Finasteride

Initially, Finasteride was an oral medication for treating Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH). It benefits patients by reducing the size of the enlarged prostate.

Finasteride is a Dihydrotestosterone(DHT) antagonist.

DHT is a hormone that binds to men’s hair follicles and damages them, preventing new hair growth.

Finasteride tablets are prescription medicine. It is sold under the brand name Propecia.

Doctors primarily recommend it for treating Male Pattern Baldness.

Many men who take Finasteride report less hair loss and, in some cases, new hair growth.

It could take several months to see if it is working for you. To keep the benefits, you must continue to take them as directed by your doctor.

Rare side effects of Finasteride include decreased sex drive and sexual function. It may also increase the risk of developing prostate cancer.

Products with FinasterideApprox. Cost
Finpecia 1mg$6.27
Finalo 1mg$19

Spironolactone

This medication may be an option for women who have female pattern hair loss

Avoid getting pregnant while undergoing treatment with Spironolactone. This medication has the potential to cause congenital disabilities.

If you are at risk of becoming pregnant, your dermatologist will also prescribe a birth control pill.

According to NCBI, in a study, Spironolactone at the dose of 200 mg daily reduced hair loss by 50%–62.9% and also increased the total number of anagen hairs.

Sometimes for an effective treatment, your doctor can also recommend the treatment of the underlying cause.

The side effects of Spironolactone are dose-dependent.

Some side effects are hypotension, hyperkalemia, fatigue, headache, weight loss, increased urinary frequency, and dry skin. 

Olumiant

FDA-approved Olumiant (Baricitinib) oral tablets to treat adult patients with severe Alopecia Areata.

Olumiant should be taken once a day, with or without food.

2 mg tablet of Olumiant is taken orally once a day. Some people may need up to 4 mg once a day.

Your doctor will determine the appropriate dose for you.

Olumiant is not recommended for people with severe kidney or liver damage. If you have kidney or liver problems, consult your doctor to see if Olumiant is a good option.

Warning
Always follow your doctor’s prescription when undergoing treatment. To avoid the side effects of the medicine, do not self-medicate.

Procedures for hair growth

Receiving Alopecia treatment can help you fight hair lossSource: Golib
Receiving Alopecia treatment

Here are some surgical and nonsurgical procedures that a doctor may suggest as a part of Alopecia treatment:

Microneedling

Microneedling is a treatment that uses hundreds of tiny needles. 

Several studies have shown that it can aid in hair growth.

In one study, men between the ages of 20 and 35 with mild to moderate hereditary hair loss were given either.

Patients who received Minoxidil and micro-needling had significantly more hair growth after 12 weeks of treatment.

Research has also shown that combining micro needling with another treatment, such as platelet-rich plasma or a corticosteroid applied to the thinning area, improves hair growth.

While a micro-needling device can be purchased without a prescription, it is best to consult your dermatologist first. 

Some conditions can be exacerbated by micro-needling. 

Corticosteroid injections

Your dermatologist will inject into the bald (or thinning) areas to help your hair regrow. 

Because these injections are typically administered every 4 to 8 weeks as needed, you will need to return to your dermatologist’s office for treatment.

In an article by Dr. Jeff Donovan, he mentions too often, when treating Alopecia areata, the patient receives too few injections. 

The result is poor regrowth and a conclusion (eventually) by the patient and doctor that “steroid injections didn’t work.” 

Dr. Jeff Donovan is a board-certified Dermatologist and a hair loss specialist.

Hair transplant

Hair transplantation is an Alopecia treatmentSource: 1905HKN_from_Getty_Images_Signature
Hair transplantation for treating Alopecia

Only the top of the head is impacted by the most common type of permanent hair loss. 

Hair transplantation, also known as restoration surgery, can help you make the most of the hair you still have.

A cosmetic surgeon or a dermatologist removes hair from a hairy area of the head and transplants it to a bald spot during a hair transplant procedure. 

Each hair patch contains one to several hairs (micrografts and mini grafts). 

A larger strip of skin with multiple hair groupings is sometimes taken. 

This procedure does not necessitate hospitalization but is painful, so you will be given sedation to alleviate any discomfort. 

Bleeding, bruising, swelling, and infection are all potential risks. 

You may require more than one surgery to achieve the desired result. Despite surgery, hereditary hair loss will progress.

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP)

PRP involves drawing a small amount of your blood, separating it into parts in a machine, and then injecting one part of your blood (the plasma) into the area with hair loss.

The entire procedure takes about 10 minutes and does not usually necessitate any downtime.

You will be required to return for additional injections. Most patients return once a month for three months, then once every three to six months.

You may lose less or no hair during the first few months of treatment.

Laser Therapy

The FDA has approved a low-level laser device to treat hereditary hair loss in men and women.

Low-Level Laser Therapy ( LLLT) is a non-surgical treatment for Androgenetic Alopecia.

It is also known as Red Light Therapy or Cold Laser Therapy.

This treatment employs laser light to penetrate the scalp and stimulate stem cells, aiding hair growth.

LLLT is a painless and non-invasive hair growth technique.

It has the same side effects as any other injection-based therapy, such as-<br />
  • Calcification at injection sites
  • Scar tissue
  • Blood vessel or nerve damage
  • Infection

Hair supplements

Suppose your blood test reveals that you are deficient in biotin, iron, or zinc. In that case, your dermatologist may advise you to take a supplement.

If you aren’t getting enough protein, your dermatologist can recommend ways to increase your intake.

You should only take biotin, iron, or zinc if a blood test reveals a deficiency. Taking a supplement if your levels are normal can be harmful.

For example, taking too much iron can result in iron poisoning. Early warning signs include stomach pain and vomiting.

Other hair loss supplements typically contain a high concentration of a single nutrient. 

Because this can result in excess of that nutrient, many dermatologists advise taking a multivitamin instead.

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Conclusion

Even though there is no cure for Alopecia, medical science advancement has helped people stop and regrow hair. 

A dermatologist can help you prevent future hair loss.

But remember, the treatment can take months before you see results. Be patient and follow the entire course of any treatment for the best results.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to treat Alopecia?

There are many treatments available for Alopecia. Medicines like Finasteride and Minoxidil are FDA approved for treating it. Hair transplant, Platelet-Rich Plasma, and Laser therapy are a few other procedures that can help treat Alopecia.

What is the fastest way to cure Alopecia?

There is no cure for Alopecia Areata at the moment. Still, doctors can recommend some treatments to help hair regrow more quickly. Corticosteroids, which can suppress the immune system, are the most commonly used form of Alopecia Areata treatment.

Can Alopecia be cured naturally?

No there is no cure for Alopecia. Different medicines and treatments can help you stop hair fall and, in some cases, even regrow.

How long does it take for Alopecia to go away?

Mild cases of Alopecia Areata usually improve on their own within a few months to a year. Patchy baldness may appear and disappear over months or years in some cases. The size of the bald patches, as well as their duration, vary greatly.

Citations:
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