Losing your hair can be upsetting, but the good news is there are treatments that can help! The kind of hair loss you’re experiencing affects what treatments will work best. Let’s look at options for the three most common types: androgenetic alopecia, alopecia areata, and traction alopecia.
This is what most people think of as male or female pattern baldness. It runs in families and is caused by sensitivity to hormones like testosterone. The hair follicles get smaller over time, so hair doesn’t grow as long and eventually stops altogether.
Men usually first notice a receding hairline, while women experience gradual thinning on top. The end result can be complete baldness if left untreated.
The aim of treatments is to prevent more hair loss and hopefully regrow some. Minoxidil (Rogaine) is a topical medicine that can revive shrunken follicles. Finasteride is a pill that blocks the production of DHT, the hormone behind hair loss. Hair transplants can restore hair permanently by moving follicles from fuller areas. Laser devices, microneedling, and special shampoos may also help when added to medications.
The key is being consistent with whatever treatment plan you and your dermatologist decide on. These medications need to be used continuously to maintain results.
Alopecia Areata Treatment:
Basically, alopecia areata is when your immune system mistakenly attacks your own hair follicles, causing bald spots to develop suddenly. It often starts with one or more coin-sized, perfectly smooth patches. Sometimes the hair regrows spontaneously over several months. But in more severe cases, complete baldness can occur on the head (alopecia totalis) or the entire body (alopecia universalis).
Researchers today see alopecia areata as an autoimmune and inflammatory disease. Genes may increase risks, but triggers like stress or illness likely provoke the immune system to turn on hair follicles. The reasons are still being studied.
Goals of Treatment:
While alopecia areata can’t be cured, the goal of treatment is controlling hair loss and regrowing hair. This is achieved by:
- Suppressing the immune attack on hair follicles
- Reducing inflammation around follicles
- Stimulating dormant follicles back into the growth phase
The approach depends on the severity and patterns of hair loss. Let’s look at what dermatologists today have in their toolkits.
Topical and Injectable Treatments:
For milder cases, topical treatments applied to the scalp can help regrow hair. Options may include:
- Corticosteroid creams and solutions to reduce inflammation
- Immunotherapy creams, like diphencyprone, induce allergic reactions to retrain the immune system
- Light therapies with laser comb devices or LED light caps
Injections can also deliver targeted treatment:
- Steroid injections directly into patches to reduce immune attack
- Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections to stimulate growth factors
Oral and Systemic Drugs:
For rapidly progressing alopecia areata, oral or intravenous medications affect the whole immune system. These include:
- Corticosteroids like prednisone broadly suppress the immune response
- Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors such as ruxolitinib and baricitinib
- Biologic agents like tofacitinib
Hair Transplant Surgery:
For resistant patches, hair transplantation can permanently restore hair. Healthy follicular units are harvested from the back of the scalp and implanted into bald areas. This hair is genetically resistant to the immune attack.
Wigs and Other Hair Coverage:
Cosmetic options like well-fitted wigs or scalp micropigmentation can mask bald spots while pursuing regrowth treatments. Quality hair replacements boost confidence.
Living with alopecia areata means coping with uncertainty. Hair may regrow and then rebuild. Consistent follow-up care helps track progression and adjust treatment plans promptly. Staying positive and proactive is important during the ups and downs.
The future looks promising as research accelerates. Newer immunomodulating drugs offer hope of longer remissions. With a skilled dermatologist’s help, most people with alopecia areata can find a management plan to fit their lifestyle and regrow satisfying hair coverage.
Traction Alopecia Treatment:
Traction alopecia is a common form of hair loss in women caused by too-tight hairstyles. The constant pulling damages hair follicles, leading to bald patches along the hairline that can become permanent if not treated. However early intervention and avoiding tight styles that add stress to hair can help reverse traction alopecia. Let’s explore what options are available.
Understanding Traction Alopecia:
This type of hair loss happens when excessive, prolonged tension is placed on hair shafts. Hairstyles like tight braids, ponytails, buns, hair extensions, and weaves strain hairlines the most. The persistent pulling can destroy follicles’ blood supply and eventually cause scarring that prevents regrowth.
Initially, patchy thinning with “fuzzy” regrowth appears at temples and edges. If styling practices continue, bald patches may expand and become permanent. Traction alopecia is most common in African-American women but can affect any ethnicity. Catching it early is key.
Easing Up on Styling:
The first line of treatment is simply decreasing damaging styles that chronically pull on the hairline. Ideally, allowing hair to rest loose without tension can help follicles recover. If braids, ponytails or weaves are preferred, have them installed with minimal strain by a skilled stylist. Avoiding chemical processing and heat styling also gives hair a break.
Minoxidil foam or solution applied twice daily may help regrow hair around damaged follicles. Corticosteroid injections can reduce inflammation and stimulate growth. Microneedling with PRP (platelet-rich plasma) is another option gaining popularity.
While not as effective as early intervention, these treatments may revive follicles that have rested for a few months. Results take patience, however, as growth occurs slowly. Consistency is vital.
Surgical Hair Restoration:
For areas where follicles are permanently scarred, hair transplantation offers permanent restoration. Tiny grafts of hair follicles are harvested from the back of the scalp and artistically implanted into thin areas. With a skilled surgeon, transplants can reconstruct natural-looking edges and hairlines.
Wigs, hair powders, root touch-up sprays or semi-permanent scalp micro pigmentation can quickly camouflage signs of traction alopecia as treatment progresses. These immediate cosmetic fixes provide confidence while waiting for natural regrowth.
Prevention Is Ideal:
When detected early, traction alopecia is reversible if damaging styles stop. Educating young girls about protective low-tension styling is key to preventing permanent hair loss. Avoiding chemical processing and heat will also keep hairlines healthy.
With a diligent hair care regimen, traction alopecia can often be improved. But patient consistency is vital, as is following up with your dermatologist to monitor results. Catching this hair disorder early and easing up on traumatic styles offers the best prognosis for rebuilding healthy hairlines.