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Other Drugs Used for Alopecia Areata

Treating Alopecia Areata With Photochemotherapy

In photochemotherapy, a person is given a light-sensitive drug (called a psoralen) either orally or topically and then exposed to an ultraviolet light source. This combined treatment is called PUVA (psoralen and ultraviolet A). In clinical trials, approximately 55 percent of people achieve cosmetically acceptable hair growth by using photochemotherapy. However, the relapse rate is high, and patients must go to a treatment center where the equipment is available at least two to three times per week. Furthermore, this treatment carries the risk of skin cancer.

Treating Alopecia Areata With 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.

Treating Alopecia Areata With Oral Cyclosporine

Originally developed to keep people's immune systems from rejecting transplanted organs, oral cyclosporine is sometimes used to suppress the immune system for people with alopecia areata. However, suppressing the immune system can also cause problems, including an increased risk of serious infection and possibly skin cancer. Although oral cyclosporine may help to re-grow hair, it does not stop the disease. Most doctors feel that the dangers of the drug outweigh its benefits for alopecia areata treatment.

Alopecia Areata Information

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