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What Are Your Options for Alopecia Treatment?

There are about one hundred thousand strands of hair on your head, and losing about a hundred a day is normal. However, when you start losing more than this number, you may be needing treatment for alopecia. Alopecia is not a fatal medical condition, but it can leave you feeling emotionally distressed and can affect your self-confidence, especially if you consider your hair as a vital part of your identity. Alopecia can be caused by stress, illness, nutrient deficiency, aging or genetic baldness. You should consult a specialist when you start noticing bald patches, clumps of hair falling off, thinning hair and itching or burning scalp. If stress or a medical condition is causing your hair to fall out, treating it will restore normal hair growth. It’s helpful to note that these treatments are not a one hundred percent cure for alopecia; however, these treatments are prescribed to help you regrow your hair and prevent hair loss in the future.

1. Minoxidil 

Minoxidil is an over-the-counter medication that is commonly used to treat male and female pattern or hereditary baldness. It is applied topically on the scalp every day and has been proven to stimulate hair growth. Two out of three men find it effective but women have been known to respond well to this alopecia treatment also. It works best if you’re under forty years old and have just started losing your hair. The medicine is not an actual cure for alopecia but a treatment. If you stop applying it, you’ll probably start losing your hair again. Generally, you will start seeing results after four months of use. If you have sensitive skin, your scalp could experience side effects from Minoxidil like itching, dryness, and flaking.

Photo: Hims
Photo: Hims

2. Finasteride 

Finasteride is another type of medication, but it is only applicable to male alopecia sufferers. It’s sold as a pill and has to be taken orally every day. Most men who take the drug say that they didn’t lose as much hair as before and some even reported growing new hair. However, Finasteride won’t be as effective if you’re over sixty years old. Its side effects, although rare, are also more unfavourable than Minoxidil since it increases the risk of prostate cancer. 

3. Corticosteroids 

The use of steroids is a treatment that is mostly recommended for those with alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease where the immune system goes haywire and attacks the hair follicles, causing strands to fall out in patches. Steroid hair therapy can be in the form of an injection where a solution is injected directly to a bald patch to prevent antibodies from attacking the follicles. Injections, if done regularly every few weeks or so, can also help stimulate hair growth. However, hair fall can recur if the treatment is stopped. You can also apply scalp ointment or cream containing steroids on your scalp. If you take this option, some of the side affects you could encounter include acne and thinning of the skin. Alternatively, steroidal pills can be taken, but because of serious physical issues that could arise like stomach ulcers and diabetes, specialists recommend it only in severe cases.

4. Surgery  

A hair transplant should be your last recourse – an option you take if other treatments fail to give you the desired results. The procedure involves taking patches of scalp containing hair and implanting them on the bald spots of your scalp. Your doctor will probably recommend the use of minoxidil after the hair transplant to help prevent further hair loss. Sometimes, multiple surgeries may be necessary to get the best effect. A transplant can provide quicker results than medications, but it is expensive and is painful. Even after the surgery, you can still experience alopecia especially if baldness runs in your family. 

5. Wig  

If your hair loss is extensive, you can opt for a wig. Wigs can be made of synthetic or real hair, and each offers its own set of features. A synthetic wig has a lifespan of approximately six to nine months, is easy to maintain, is more affordable than its real hair counterpart, and can be hot and itchy to wear. A real hair wig can last up to four years, looks natural, is difficult to maintain because it needs regular cleaning, is expensive, and has to be styled by hairdresser.


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