Alopecia is the medical term for hair loss, and alopecia treatment depends very much on the cause of the hair loss. Sometimes alopecia is relatively transient, perhaps occurring during chemotherapy or radiation treatment, and may resolve on its own, though first hair loss can be dramatic and affect the entire scalp. Other times, alopecia is behavioral, genetic, a response to an irritant or infectious, and common treatments vary. In other words, the most common alopecia treatment really depends on why the hair loss is occurring.
Some people lose hair because they have habitual behaviors or an illness called trichotillomania where they pull out their hair. This can damage the hair’s ability to grow back over time and people with this condition do need treatment. This condition tends to respond to a combination of medication to help stop obsessive behaviors and therapy.
The goal is to stop the person from losing more hair by stopping the behavior. Once people are well on the road to recovery from trichotillomania, they might consider treating hair loss directly with medicines like minoxidil to stimulate regrowth or procedures like hair transplant. People need to be well recovered for this second option because it is expensive and pointless if the transplanted hairs will be pulled out again.
Alopecia areata is rapid hair loss, often occurring in patches, which is theorized to have an autoimmune component. When this condition starts, with one area of hair disappearing quickly, people should get to a doctor. Most common alopecia treatment in this case may be to use a combination of topical or injected steroids to calm inflammation, in addition to encouraging regrowth with minoxidil.
For male and female pattern baldness, alopecia treatment can also involve minoxidil, but it has to be used daily in order to be effective and it doesn’t help everyone. People with more advanced hair loss might consider hair transplants. Another thing people think about is using things like wigs to cover thinning hair. For women, thinning hair is considered an emotionally weighty cosmetic issue, whereas there are many men who are quite comfortable with total hair loss. Some are not, and both women and men may want an alopecia treatment to minimize additional loss of hair.
Sometimes, alopecia results from conditions like fungal infection. Instead of treating the hair loss, an alopecia treatment focuses on killing the fungus with an antifungal medication. Similarly, contact dermatitis sometimes creates alopecia. The alopecia treatment here might treat inflammation with steroids. It’s also important to identify the irritant so that people can stop exposure to it, and end skin reactions of the scalp.
Occasionally, medications or nutritional deficiencies create alopecia. More than normal hair loss is a good indication to see a doctor, particularly if people take medicines that cause hair loss, or if they have poor diets or medical conditions that interfere with nutrient absorption. Alopecia treatments, in these cases, depend on individual circumstances.