Alopecia


Alopecia Areata is an autoimmune skin disorder which causes hair loss. The immune system, which usually attacks bacteria, viruses and other foreign bodies, instead attacks hair follicles resulting in hair loss on the scalp and sometimes on other areas of the body. The disease effects approximately 5 million people in the US.

First occurrences of Alopecia Areata usually arise in childhood. The effects on children and adults can be emotionally scarring. Although Alopecia is not life-threatening: sufferers are often healthy in every other respect, but the psychological trauma can be severe.

Symptoms
Alopecia Areata usually appears as one or more small circles or patches of hair loss. The resulting range of hair loss can run from small areas of hair loss to complete baldness. In approximately 50% of those affected, hair grows back within one year without the aid of medical intervention, but recurrences of the disease can occur.

Treatment
Alopecia Areata is treated by the following drugs: 

Cortisone Injections

Cortisone injected into the area of baldness. Hair growth will appear within a few weeks if the cortisone is effective. There is no guarantee that cortisone will work, however. Cortisone will not prevent recurrences of the disease.

Topical Minoxidil
Minoxidil does regrow hair in some Alopecia Areata sufferers. It is often used in combination with Cortisone. It is not effective in treating patients with complete hair loss.

Mnthralin Cream Anthralin, a substance resembling tar, is commonly used in treating psoriasis of the scalp. Anthralin can be effective in treating Alopecia. Anthralin ointment or cream is applied to the areas of hair loss, and if it is effective, hair growth will be seen in 6 to 8 weeks.
Hair transplants are not an effective treatment because recurrences of Alopecia Areata will also affect transplanted hair.