What is Alopecia areata?
It is an autoimmune condition, in which persons immune system attacks its own cells, in this case the hair follicles. This interferes with hair growth resulting in hair fall and appearance of bald patches, ranging in size of a small coin to larger in size.
Alopecia areata often presents in individuals with a family history of other autoimmune conditions like psoriasis, vitiligo, rheumatoid arthritis, atopic eczema etc.
There are various types of alopecia areata:
Most common type being one or more patches of hair loss on the scalp. It may also affect the beard area, where oval or round patches of hair loss are seen amidst the areas of normal hair growth.
In some people there can be complete hair loss over the entire scalp, known as Alopecia totalis. Less frequently, it may result in hair loss over the entire body, known as Alopecia universalis.
Is diagnosed clinically. Examination and dermoscopy helps confirm the diagnosis.
Treatment for Alopecia areata?
Here at MKSkin clinic, Milton Keynes, we offer treatment for Alopecia areata. Treatment includes, intralesional steroid injections, triamicinolone acetonide. These can help to bring about the regrowth. However, it is important to understand that steroid injections do not cure alopecia areata but temporarily or permanently resolve a patch. The nature of alopecia is such that it can come back in the same area or a new area at a later time and having steroid injections do not prevent that.
While having steroid injections helps a large proportion of patients, it does not help everyone. Treatments are given every 4 to 6 weeks. Some people only need one or two treatments, while others may need more treatments. Average number of treatments is 3 to 4.
Treatment is more likely to be beneficial if done within 1-2 months of the patch developing as it controls the inflammation early on and prevents the immune system from being activated. Treatment is repeated every 4 to 6 weeks. Initial regrowth is often seen in 4 to 8 weeks. If there is no improvement after 6 months of treatment with intralesional steroid injections, treatment should be stopped.