Alopecia Treatment Options

Alopecia is the general term used to refer to hair loss (baldness) in both men and women. It is an autoimmune condition that can lead to either spot baldness (alopecia areata) or baldness that affects the whole scalp (alopecia totalis). The condition can also affect hair on other parts of the body in which case it is referred to as alopecia universalis. The condition can also occur due to some other factors including chemotherapy.

Alopecia can be scarring or non-scarring. A scarring type of alopecia leads to inflammations on the scalp, which eventually causes loss of hair and hair follicles. On the other hand, a non-scarring type of alopecia only causes loss of hair shafts. Of these two, the latter can easily be reversed with the right medications. The former requires a detailed treatment regime that may involve surgery.

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Treatment Options

There are various alopecia treatment options for treating any form and type of alopecia. However, it has been observed that not all treatment options provide for the same results in different patients with the same form and type of the condition.

Topical ointments and creams are usually the first line of alopecia treatment. The most common ointments and creams that physicians/dermatologists do prescribe are mometasone, hydrocortisone and betamethasone. It takes some time before a “patient” experiencing alopecia realizes positive results.

A physician/dermatologist can also prescribe an oral medication to be used alongside a topical ointment/cream. Many physicians/dermatologists no longer prescribe corticosteroid tablets because of serious side effects they are associated with. Instead, Finasteride remains the oral drug of choice.

Corticosteroid injection is the other alopecia treatment option that physicians/dermatologists do recommend. It involves injecting bald areas of the scalp with a drug containing a hormone that acts to suppress the body’s immune system to help reverse alopecia.

Photo therapy is another treatment option for alopecia. It involves exposing bald areas of the scalp to either UVB or UVA rays to encourage growth of new hair. Other forms of therapy including acupuncture and aromatherapy are also used in treating alopecia.

Scalp surgery is usually recommended in case a “patient” has loose skin on the scalp. The surgery involves cutting off an area of the scalp that is bald before moving area of the scalp with hair closer together. However, this form of treatment is rare because of resultant scarring.

Hair transplantation is the other alopecia treatment that physicians/dermatologists do recommend. Unlike in the past, modern hair transplantation is very different, thanks to technological advancements made in the medical field. Both follicular unit transplantation (FUT) and follicular unit extraction (FUE) are the two latest hair transplantation techniques that are now used by specialized dermatologists and physicians in treating alopecia.

Of all the above alopecia treatment options available, hair transplantation is the most popular treatment option preferred by both dermatologists and "patients” alike. This is mainly because of the many benefits that this form of treatment provides. Unlike the traditional treatment techniques that take a long time and often require repeated treatment sessions, hair transplantation is only a one-off treatment and results start to show faster compared with the other treatment options. Most importantly, hair transplantation has a high success rate.

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