Alopecia areata (AA) is a common autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune cells attack the hair follicles, resulting in hair loss. It often presents as distinct patches of hair loss that can affect any part of the body. In most cases the condition is self-limited with gradual regrowth of hair within 2 years. However, some patients may have a more resistant or aggressive form of the disease with progressive loss of hair on the scalp and different body parts. Although most patients experience limited hair loss, it is difficult to predict the course of the disease. This condition is not infectious and affects approximately 2% of the population.
Although there is no permanent cure for alopecia areata, there are a few different treatment options to help promote the regrowth of hair. Corticosteroids are often used to treat autoimmune diseases and may be administered as injections, pills, or topical creams in order to suppress the immune system from attacking the hair follicles. Injections have shown to be more effective than other forms of treatment. While injections may help with the areas treated, patients may still develop new areas of hair loss.
Rogaine and other topical products may also be used to help stimulate hair growth in affected areas. A combination of these treatment options may improve their effectiveness, but results may vary.