Scarring alopecia is not one disease, but a group of hair loss disorders. This type of permanent hair loss destroys the hair follicles and replaces them with scar tissue. Though hair loss due to scarring alopecia is permanent and cannot be reversed once scarred, it can be treated to help prevent further hair loss and scarring. The treatment recommended for you will depend on the cause of your scarring alopecia.
Treatment for Scarring Alopecia
According to the American Hair Loss Association (AHLA), there are many types of scarring alopecia, and they are often categorized by the type of cells that attack the hair follicles:
- Mixed cells
The American Hair Loss Association says scarring alopecias in which mainly lymphocytes attack the hair follicles are usually treated with corticosteroids, both in the form of topical creams and injections into the affected area. In addition, your doctor may prescribe antimalarial drugs or retinoids, Adam Mamelak, MD, dermatologist and founder of Sanova Dermatology in Austin, Texas, tells WebMD Connect to Care.
According to the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD), scarring alopecias caused by neutrophils are treated by eliminating the microbes that trigger the inflammation. This can be achieved with oral antibiotics. Your doctor may also prescribe retinoids for this type of scarring alopecia, Mamelak says.
When many types of inflammatory cells are involved in the hair loss, your doctor may prescribe some combination of antibiotics, corticosteroids and retinoids.
You may be able to restore hair that has been lost due to scarring alopecia with surgical options. “Hair transplantation is often the only way to significantly restore hair to an area affected by scarring alopecia,” Mamelak says.
During hair transplantation, hair is taken from another area of the scalp and moved to the area where hair loss has occurred. However, this procedure is typically only successful once the disease has been inactive for one to two years.
“If the inflammation is still brewing in the skin, it can attack the newly transplanted follicles just as it did the original hair,” Mamelak says.
According to the National Organization for Rare Disorders, once a hair follicle is destroyed, hair cannot regrow. However, early treatment may control inflammation enough to prevent further hair loss. For this reason, prompt and aggressive treatment of scarring alopecia is very important for maintaining a healthy head of hair.
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