While there are no Food and Drug Administration-approved treatments for hair loss caused by alopecia, a variety of drugs approved for other conditions may help some patients with alopecia slow the rate of hair loss and even regrow hair.
The corticosteroids are injected directly into the bald patches of skin every four to six weeks. The injections do not stop additional hair loss but may stimulate regrowth in as little as four weeks.
This treatment involves applying the minoxidil solution to the scalp a couple of times a day to stimulate hair growth. While the treatment is easy to use and has minimal side effects, it generally is not effective unless combined with topical corticosteroid medications.
Anthralin Ointment or Cream:
Anthralin is normally used to treat psoriasis, but it may also stimulate hair growth in alopecia patients with two to three months of continuous usage. The tar-like substance is applied to the bald areas of skin once a day and then washed off within 30 to 60 minutes. The medication may cause temporary skin irritation or discoloration.
Topical corticosteroids come in a variety of forms and strengths and can help decrease the inflammation around hair follicles that can lead to hair loss. Although the effectiveness of the medication is based on how well it is absorbed into the scalp, most patients experience a decrease in hair loss and hair regrowth of about 25 percent.
Oral corticosteroids may help slow extensive hair loss and promote hair regrowth by suppressing the disease activity or immune response triggering the alopecia. As a general rule, oral corticosteroids are only taken for short periods of time, since they can cause serious side effects.
Squaric acid dibutyl ester, diphencyprone, or dinitrochlorobenzene may be applied directly to the scalp in order to modify the immune response triggering the hair loss. As many as 40 percent of patients regrow hair within six months when using this treatment. Topical immunotherapy is not as widely available as other treatments and typically causes a poison ivy-like rash at the application site.
Immunotherapy drugs, including ruxolitinib and tofacitinib commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and certain blood disorders, have shown promise in helping patients with extensive hair loss regrow hair. The drugs are currently in clinical trials to determine their efficacy and safety in the long-term treatment of alopecia.
Regardless of the treatment used, it is possible for the hair loss to return once the treatment is discontinued. Patients should consult a board-certified dermatologist to determine the most appropriate treatment for their circumstances.
If you are interested in learning more about how to prevent hair loss in its initial stages or feel like you missed the boat, do not hesitate. Contact OC Skin Institute as our team and board-certified dermatologist can help combat the effects of hair loss, no matter the stage.