3 Ways to Treat Alopecia

It’s frustrating to deal with hair loss due to an autoimmune condition like alopecia, whether your hair loss is patchy (alopecia areata), you’ve lost the hair on your scalp (alopecia totalis), or you’ve lost hair over your entire body (alopecia universalis). If you have mild hair loss, you may be able to improve the health of your hair follicles to regrow hair. For more severe or persistent hair loss, ask your doctor or dermatologist to prescribe treatments that can stimulate hair growth.


Getting Medical Treatment

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1. Get corticosteroid injections every 4 to 6 weeks. If you have mild alopecia areata, a dermatologist will inject corticosteroids directly into the area where hair has fallen out. The corticosteroids will prevent your immune system from attacking the hair follicles, and you can expect hair to begin growing about 4 weeks after your last injection.
  • Corticosteroids are also available as a topical treatment, which make them easier for children with alopecia areata to use.


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2. Apply minoxidil 1 to 2 times a day. Mild alopecia can be treated by spreading minoxidil on the skin for about 3 months. If you have more severe alopecia or your hair doesn’t respond to the minoxidil, ask your doctor about using it along with another alopecia treatment.
  • Minoxidil is often used along with topical corticosteroids.
  • Anthralin is another topical treatment that you might be prescribed. You’ll need to apply the cream or lotion and wash it off after 30 to 60 minutes. Hair can begin growing back within 8 to 12 weeks.
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3. Rub medication to cause an allergic reaction over the bald skin. If you have inflammation and extensive alopecia, the doctor can prescribe diphencyprone (DPCP), which can trick your immune system and restart hair growth.[3] A clinician will rub a highly concentrated amount of DPCP over your skin, which you’ll leave on for 2 to 3 days. Once you’ve had a reaction, the clinician will apply a weaker solution of DPCP on the area once a week.
  • You’ll need to use DPCP for 3 months for the hair to regrow.
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4. Take oral corticosteroids for severe alopecia areata, totalis, or universalis. Oral corticosteroids can improve your condition by suppressing your immune system. Because of the risk for side effects, doctors usually prescribe them to be used for a short period of time.
  • Side effects include glaucoma, swelling in the logs, high blood pressure, behavioral issues, and weight gain.
  • Young adults are less likely to experience side effects while taking short courses of oral corticosteroids.


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5. Apply topical immunotherapy for severe alopecia, totalis, or universalis. The dermatologist will spread medication directly onto the balding skin. Your immune system will send white blood cells to the area, which can cause hair to regrow.
  • Side effects of topical immunotherapy include redness, itching, and rash because your immune system is reacting to the medication.

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