The 7 Best Alopecia Areata Treatments for 2022
Alopecia Areata (AA) is an autoimmune disease which means that there is a problem with your immune system. Our immune systems fight off viruses, infections and bacteria. However, autoimmune diseases cause this defence system to attack areas of your body instead (in this case your hair).
There are numerous Alopecia Areata treatments, in this article we look at which one is best.
- Are Alopecia Areata Treatments Available on the NHS?
- What Are the Best Alopecia Areata Treatments?
Are Alopecia Areata Treatments Available on the NHS?
AA is seen in 1-2% of the British population and, although it’s a rare condition, there are Alopecia Areata treatments available on the NHS. In addition, although it’s mainly a cosmetic concern, GP’s recognise that hair loss has negative effects on quality of life (QoL). Thus you can also get emotional support through the NHS with a referral from your doctor.
While treatments are being used, some people prefer to wear wigs to disguise their hair loss. Wigs can either be synthetic of made using real hair. Some wigs are available on the NHS but sometimes you will have to pay – unless you qualify for financial help.
What Are the Best Alopecia Areata Treatments?
Alopecia Areata treatments need to be suitable for non-scarring alopecia because the hair follicles are not dead, just temporarily inactive. Thus, these treatments are designed to stimulate hair growth.
1. Steroid Injections
Steroid injections are ideal Alopecia Areata Treatments because they directly penetrate the affected area below the skin. The drug directly targets the inflammation compared to the topical method that takes slightly longer to work.
Patients with small bald spots are perfect for this treatment – they can be on the scalp, beard, eyebrows or other body parts.
2. PRP Treatment
PRP Treatments have been studied to be successful Alopecia Areata treatments whereby a patients blood is taken and prepared to be injected back into the patient’s scalp. During a study, carried out at Kamal Hospital, Kaushambi, 20 patients with AA received PRP treatments (6 sessions each with a 4-week interval). Out of the 20 patients, only 1 had a relapse.
3. Topical Minoxidil
Minoxidil dilates your veins in order to increase blood flow to the application area. Thanks to the increase in blood circulation, an increased about of nutrients go to the hair follicles. This is believed to prolong the anagen stage of the hair growth cycle. 5% minoxidil is the recommended strength to see hair growth in the areas that hair loss is present.
4. Topical immunotherapy
This method creates an allergic reaction on the surface of your skin. The intention of this is to draw the inflammation from the hair follicles to the area where the new inflammatory process has been induced. Therefore, the immune system is being distracted in order to protect the hair bulbs from permanent damage.
Squaric acid (SADBE) is a form of topical immunotherapy that is used for Alopecia Areata treatments.
In a similar fashion to immunotherapy, Anthralin causes scalp irritation which diverts the inflammatory process away from the hairs. Anthralin causes irritative contact dermatitis. Hair regrowth is seen in 71% of Alopecia Areata patients. Results can take up to 3 months to be seen with the full response appearing after 15 months.
6. JAK Inhibitors
Janus Kinase Inhibitors (JAK Inhibitors) include Ruxolitinib and Tofacitinib. A study was conducted on patients with moderate to severe Alopecia Areata which saw 75% of the patients experience significant hair regrowth. Ruxolitinib was the most effective of the 2 Alopecia Areata treatments.
7. Topical Corticosteroid
Topical steroid cream, foam or ointment is a good alternative to injections, especially for people who are afraid of needles. Steroids come in different strengths which have different effects depending on the severity of your alopecia.
Clobetasol has been scientifically tested and achieves a more significant result compared to lower-potency steroids like hydrocortisone.
Alopecia Areata is a treatable condition even though it isn’t curable. There isn’t 1 treatment method that works better than others, it’s very individual. Some Alopecia Areata treatments have no effect on some people, whereas others experience full hair regrowth.
However, this doesn’t mean that your hair loss won’t return. AA is known for coming in “waves” therefore your hair may fall out and regrow several times.