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Various Medicines Used for Alopecia Areata

Oral Corticosteroids
Oral corticosteroids taken by mouth are oftentimes used as treatment for autoimmune diseases such as alopecia areata. However, oral corticosteroids may cause side effects such as hypertension (high blood pressure) and cataracts, which is why they are only used occasionally for alopecia areata treatment. If used, oral corticosteroids are only taken for short periods of time.
Topical Ointments
Ointments or creams containing steroids are less traumatic than injections. Therefore, topical (applied directly to the skin) ointments are the preferred treatment for children. However, corticosteroid ointments and creams alone are less effective than injections and they work best when combined with other topical treatments, such as minoxidil or anthralin.


Minoxidil (Rogaine) is FDA-approved for treating male and female pattern hair loss and it may also promote hair growth for adults and children with alopecia areata. Minoxidil may be used on the scalp, brow, and beard areas. With regular and proper use of the solution, new hair growth appears in about 12 weeks.


Anthralin (Psoriatec) is commonly used as alopecia areata treatment. Anthralin is applied for 20 to 60 minutes to the skin. When anthralin works, new hair growth is usually evident in 8 to 12 weeks. Anthralin is often used in combination with other alopecia areata treatments -- such as corticosteroid injections or minoxidil -- for improved results.


Sulfasalazine has been used as a treatment for different autoimmune disorders. It acts on the immune system and it has been used to some effect in patients with severe alopecia areata.

Topical Sensitizers

Topical sensitizers are medications that, when applied to the scalp, provoke an allergic reaction that leads to itching, scaling, and eventually hair growth. If the medication works, new hair growth is usually established in 3 to 12 months.

Understanding Alopecia Areata

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