General Information on Alopecia Areata
It is important to note that alopecia areata is not a life-threatening disease. It does not cause any physical pain, and people with alopecia areata symptoms are generally in good health.
The most common symptom of alopecia areata is hair loss. In most cases, hair falls out in small, round patches. Although many people with the condition get only a few bare patches, some people may lose more hair. The effects of alopecia areata are primarily socially and emotionally disturbing.
(Click Alopecia Areata Symptoms for more information.)
Will My Hair Grow Back?Alopecia areata varies from person to person. Hair may continue to fall out, or hair loss may stop. The hair you have lost may or may not grow back, and you may or may not continue to develop new bare patches.
Current Treatment for Alopecia AreataThere is no cure for alopecia areata, and there are no medications that are approved for alopecia areata treatment. However, doctors may prescribe medications that are approved for other diseases to help hair grow back. Talk to your doctor about how to best treat alopecia areata.
The following treatments may help hair grow back. However, none of them will prevent new patches of hair loss or cure alopecia areata.
Corticosteroids are drugs that reduce swelling and pain and affect the immune system. Corticosteroids may be given in three ways:
- Injected in the skin
- Swallowed as pills
- Rubbed on the skin as a cream or ointment.
Other Topical Medicines
Drugs that are rubbed on the skin as a cream or lotion include:
- Minoxidil (5 percent)
- Squaric acid dibutyl ester (SADBE) and diphenylcyclopropenone (DPCP).
Immune System Medicine
Drugs that affect the immune system include:
In photochemotherapy, a person is given a drug called a psoralen, which is affected by light. The drug can be swallowed or rubbed on the skin. Once the drug is taken or applied, the area with hair loss is exposed to an ultraviolet light source. This combined treatment is called PUVA (psoralen and ultraviolet A).