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Topical Treatments for Alopecia Areata

Topical steroids creams, lotions, ointments, or foams are applied directly to the scalp or area of the skin where the alopecia exists. The aim of topical steroids (corticosteroids) is to hinder and reduce inflammation within the skin. Depending on your individual requirements and condition, there are different strengths and formulations available. The formulation prescribed is important and, in most cases, a potent concentration of the medication is required. Results can take up to a year to be seen, as the hair needs to grow back in the patches where it has fallen out.

Corticosteroids—are anti-inflammatory drugs that suppress the immune system. They can be given as injections into the areas of hair loss or rubbed into affected areas. Prescription-strength corticosteroids in liquid form can be applied directly to the scalp. However, these are less effective than injections. This is often an effective treatment for children affected by alopecia areata.

Intralesional corticosteroid injections can be an effective way to treat alopecia areata. The corticosteroid is injected into the deeper levels of the dermis directly into hairless patches on the scalp, eyebrow, and beard areas. It may speed up regrowth of hair.

These injections can be repeated at 4 to 6 weekly intervals. To alleviate any discomfort as a result of the injections, a topical anaesthetic will be applied, 30 to 60 minutes before the treatment commences. Hair growth usually begins approximately 4 weeks after the injection. The results from a single injection session using intralesional corticosteroids can last up to 9 months. However, for more lasting results, a course of treatment may be required.

 Topical minoxidil 5% solution—may promote hair growth in alopecia areata. Minoxidil 5% solution applied twice daily to the scalp, brow, and beard areas may promote hair growth in both adults and children with alopecia areata. New hair growth may appear in about 12 weeks.

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