Alopecia, also known as baldness, comes in different types all of
which have different causes. Hair loss or baldness attributed to alopecia,
whether temporary or permanent, can not be cured; however, there are
several treatments available that can aid in the promotion of hair
growth and the concealment of hair loss. There are also types
of alopecia that do not need any form of treatment or intervention
for hair to grow back naturally.
The rate of effectiveness of any type of medication used to treat alopecia
is dependent on a number of things, and these are: the root
cause of hair loss, the amount of hair loss, and the persons
response to treatment. Any form of treatment is not very effective
in extensive cases of alopecia as compared to mild and moderate
The Food and Drug Administration or FDA has approved several drugs for use in the treatment of alopecia. These drugs are:
Minoxidil, commonly known as Rogaine, is a type of medication for alopecia available over the counter and without prescription. This drug is approved by the FDA for the treatment of the types of alopecia known as androgenetic alopecia and alopecia areata and may be used by either male or females.
Minoxidil, available in 2% or 5% solutions, comes in a liquid form and is rubbed onto the scalp twice a day to allow the hair to regrow and to aid in the prevention of any more loss of hair. Some individuals who use minoxidil report experiencing regrowth of hair or a decrease in the speed of hair loss, and sometimes even both.
The hair that grows as a result of the use of minoxidil is thinner and shorter than the old hair; however, there may be enough regrowth of hair to conceal any bald spots. The new hair that grows may also blend with any existing hair. Discontinuing the use of minoxidil will stop the growth of new hair. Using a different form of treatment may be recommended for individuals who experience only a nominal amount of results after six months of use.
Finasteride or Propecia is a type of medication prescribed to treat male pattern baldness. Available in the form of a pill, propecia or finasteride is to be taken once a day. The use of propecia has been known to contribute to the reduction of hair loss while some say that it has aided in the growth of new hair.
A few months of continued use may be required to get any positive
results. Finasteride or propecia works through inhibiting the body's
natural conversion of the male hormone testosterone to dihydrotestosterone
or DHT a hormone that shrinks follicles and contributes to hair
loss in males.
Similar to minoxidil, stopping the use of finasteride will also stop the benefits gained from the treatment. This drug is not approved for use by females as it poses a danger to women who are of childbearing age.
Corticosteroids refer to an anti-inflammatory drug cortisone injected directly into the scalp to treat a type of alopecia known as alopecia areata. This treatment is done monthly and physicians may sometimes prescribe the use of corticosteroid pills for extensive loss of hair attributed to alopecia areata. Cortisone creams and ointments may also be used; however, these may not be as effective as cortisone injections. Topical corticosteroids work better when used in conjunction with other hair loss treatments such as minoxidil.
Anthralin, available in brands such as Drithocreme and Psoriatec, can come as a cream or as an ointment and is applied to the scalp daily for about 20-60 minutes and immediately washed off. This type of medication is generally used to treat psoriasis; however, physicians may prescribe this drug to stimulate the growth of new hair for hair loss cases caused by alopecia areata.
A person with alopecia may also choose to undergo surgical procedures to treat this hair loss disease. Procedures such as hair transplants and scalp reduction can treat androgenetic alopecia. Surgical procedures may be expensive and can be extremely painful. Undergoing such procedures also exposes individuals to infection and scarring.
To naturally treat alopecia, one may choose to simply conceal bald spots by using hair pieces and wigs. The use of such items to hide either permanent or temporary hair loss is a great alternative to medical treatments.