Alopecia areata is a common autoimmune disorder that often results in unpredictable hair loss. The good news, people with alopecia areata who have only a few patches of hair loss often experience a spontaneous, full recovery, without the need for treatment.
There is currently no cure for alopecia areata, although there are some forms of treatment that can be suggested by doctors to help hair re-grow more quickly.
Alopecia areata is occasionally associated with other autoimmune conditions such as thyroid disease, vitiligo, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and ulcerative colitis.
Treatments for mild alopecia areata, Over The Counter:
- Quercetin, a naturally occurring bioflavonoid found in fruits and vegetables, can protect against the development of alopecia areata and effectively treat existing hair loss.
- Korean Red Ginseng: A form of Panax ginseng, Korean red ginseng shows promise in the treatment of alopecia areata.
- Onion Juice or Garlic Gel: Applying onion juice or garlic gel to parts of the head or body affected by alopecia areata may help promote hair growth.
- Cooled green tea, almond oil, rosemary oil, honey, or coconut milk into the scalp.
- Aromatherapy: an aromatherapy massage treatment involving a blend of essential oils of thyme, rosemary, lavender, and cedarwood appeared to aid in the treatment of alopecia areata for some people. These essential oils have been used traditionally for the treatment of hair loss.
- Acupuncture or Electroacupuncture is a form of acupuncture in which needles are attached to a device that produces continuous electric impulses and then placed at specific points on the patient's body.
- Stress Management: Stress may play an important role in triggering episodes of alopecia areata.
More aggressive treatments:
- Photochemotherapy: PUVA: The P stands for psoralen, the U for ultra, the V for violet, and the A for that portion of the solar spectrum between 320 and 400 nanometers in wavelength. Psoralens are chemicals found in certain plants that have the ability to absorb ultraviolet light in the UVA portion of the solar spectrum. Once the light energy is absorbed, these psoralens are energized to interact with DNA, ultimately inhibiting cell multiplication, which is its presumed mode of action. THIS TREATMENT SHOULD BE DONE IN A DOCTORS OFFICE.
- TOPICAL MINOXIDIL: 5% topical minoxidil solution is applied once or twice a day to help stimulate hair on the scalp, eyebrows and beard to regrow
- ANTHRALIN CREAM OR OINTMENT: This synthetic, tar-like substance, is applied to the hairless patches once a day and then washed off typically after a short time (usually 30-60 minutes later) or in some cases, after several hours.
- TOPICAL CORTICOSTEROIDS: corticosteroids are thought to decrease the inflammation around the hair follicle. Topical steroids can come in different brands, strengths and preparations, such as solutions, lotions, foams, creams, or ointments.
- ORAL CORTICOSTEROIDS: Corticosteroids taken in the form of a pill are sometimes prescribed for extensive scalp hair loss to try to suppress disease activity and regrow hair.
- INTRALESIONAL CORTICOSTEROID INJECTIONS. This method of treatment — the most common form of treatment for alopecia areata — uses corticosteroids that are injected into bare patches of skin with a tiny needle.
- TOPICAL IMMUNOTHERAPY: Topical immunotherapy is used to treat extensive alopecia areata. This form of treatment involves applying chemicals such as diphencyprone (DPCP), dinitrochlorobenzene (DNCB) or squaric acid dibutyl ester (SADBE) to the scalp. This causes an allergic rash (allergic contact dermatitis) that looks like poison oak or ivy, which alters the immune response.
- IMMUNOMODULATORS: DRUGS TO BLOCK THE IMMUNE RESPONSE
Immunomodulatory drugs — specifically, Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors — such as tofacitinib (Xeljanz) and ruxolitinib (Jakafi), are a new type of therapy being tested for alopecia areata.