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5 Alopecia Areata Treatment Options That Work

By Manjari Bansal
Medically Reviewed by Jennifer T. Haley, MD, FAAD on February 16, 2021
Looking for different options for alopecia areata treatment? Find out which option is best for you.

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune skin disease in which your body attacks its own hair follicles and causes hair loss, mostly in patches on the scalp, face, or entire body. But alopecia areata treatment is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Treatments vary based on the type and extent of your hair loss so be sure to consider the treatment that shows the best results for you. Here are five options that may help:

Intralesional Corticosteroid Injections

This is the most common method of treatment for mild and localized alopecia areata (a few patches of hair loss). “Corticosteroid injections are generally given by a board certified dermatologist monthly for 3-6 months directly into the affected areas — very effective for more localized disease — i.e., individual discrete patches of hair loss. It is much more difficult to do for diffuse very extensive hair loss on the scalp,” Robin Evans, MD, board-certified dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon at Southern Connecticut Dermatology, tells WebMD Connect to Care.

Topical Minoxidil

If you have mild hair loss, you can apply a topical minoxidil solution once or twice a day to trigger hair growth on the scalp and face. “It can be used but better as an adjunct to injections — used alone it is not very effective,” Evans says. According to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation, this method has minimum side effects.

Anthralin

According to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation, this medication is applied on the bald patches once a day and left for around 30-60 minutes and then washed off. It causes skin irritation and may trigger hair growth within 8 to 12 weeks. “It is used as a topical medication, often as a short-limited contact application to the scalp and is somewhat effective, less consistently effective than injections,” Evans says.

Topical Corticosteroids

This form of treatment acts by decreasing the inflammation around the hair follicle and reducing hair loss. According to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation, highly potent topical corticosteroids may improve hair regrowth by about 25%. “Topical steroids are less effective generally than injections but may be appropriate to try in children or anyone who is more needle-phobic,” Evans says.

Contact/Topical Immunotherapy

According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, this treatment option is used if you have widespread/complete hair loss. Your doctor applies a chemical to the scalp which leads to an allergic rash. It alters the immune response and promotes hair growth. “This is another topical option when the above topicals and injections have failed or as an adjunct to the above treatment,” Evans says.

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