Treat Alopecia Areata
Many drugs can be used to treat alopecia areata. Examples of these types of medicine include topical sensitizers, oral cyclosporine, and sulfasalazine. Although medications can help treat alopecia areata by promoting hair growth, they do not prevent new patches of hair loss and will not cure the underlying disease.
While there is no cure for this condition, some people find that certain medications approved for other purposes can actually help treat alopecia areata by making hair grow back, at least temporarily. These medications include:
- Minoxidil (Rogaine®)
- Anthralin (Psoriatec®)
- Topical sensitizers
- Oral cyclosporine.
It is important to keep in mind that while these treatment options may promote hair growth, none of them prevent new patches of hair loss and none of them cure the underlying disease. You should consult with your healthcare professional about the best ways to treat alopecia areata.
Corticosteroids are powerful anti-inflammatory drugs that are similar to a hormone produced in the body called cortisol. Corticosteroids suppress the immune system (if given orally), which is why they are used to treat alopecia areata -- an autoimmune disease. Corticosteroids can be administered in three ways:
- Local injections
- Oral pills
- Topical ointments.
Corticosteroids that are injected directly into hairless patches on the scalp (sometimes the brow and beard areas) usually increase hair growth, although it usually takes about four weeks for new hair growth to become visible. The main side effects of local injections are:
- Mild swelling
- Changes in pigmentation
- Temporary pain
- Small indentations in the skin that go away when the injections are stopped.
Injections can be painful, which is why they may not be the preferred treatment for children. For adults with alopecia areata, large areas cannot be treated with injections because the discomfort and the amount of medicine become too great and can result in side effects similar to those of oral corticosteroids.