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Philadelphia and Mainline Center of Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery

Written by Dr. Ringpfeil

Alopecia Areata Treatment

Alopecia Areata - Overview

Alopecia areata is a disorder that affects hair follicles and is reflected in round patches of hair loss. Normally, the immune system functions to protect the body against infection and disease. In alopecia areata, the body's immune system mistakenly recognizes hair follicles as foreign and attacks them. The cause is not known, but the prevailing scientific hypothesis is that genetics plays a significant role in predisposition and a trigger initiates the attack on the hair follicles.

Diagnosis

Alopecia areata often begins in childhood. The risk is significantly increased if you have a close family member afflicted with the disease. Emotional or physical trauma typically precedes hair loss by up to 3 months. Hair falls out in small, round patches leaving a smooth hairless scalp in affected areas. The degree of hair loss varies from one bare patch to considerable balding.

In rare cases, the disease causes a complete loss of hair on the scalp (alopecia totalis) or total body (alopecia Universalis). Rarely, alopecia areata presents as diffuse hair loss, widespread hair loss across the scalp. On occasion, a scalp biopsy may be performed. If additional signs or symptoms are present, blood tests may reveal other autoimmune conditions.

Management

In most instances, the hair regrows spontaneously; however, this process takes several months. When alopecia areata is located on the scalp and cannot easily be hidden by covering hair or clever hairstyles, the psychological impact of alopecia areata can be severe. There is no makeup that imitates hair and a hat may be inappropriate in a school or working environment. A wig can temporarily become necessary.

Treatment and Medication

Alopecia areata is difficult to treat and only a few treatments have been assessed in randomized controlled trials. The most common treatments seem to facilitate faster regrowth of hair rather than treat the underlying problem. Typical therapy includes topical corticosteroids, steroid injection under the skin surface, and ultraviolet light therapy, especially narrowband UVB.

Topical drugs may be applied to hairless areas to stimulate hair growth. Rarely, systemic immunosuppressive treatments are used. Some people with alopecia areata try alternative treatments including acupuncture and Chinese herbs. There is no cure for alopecia areata.

Coping

Many are profoundly upset by their hair loss and some may require psychological support. It might be difficult to cope with relapse following or during initially successful treatment. These considerations are particularly important in children, as the hair loss condition can make them feel less comfortable socializing and making friends. Contact with other sufferers or a patient support group is strongly recommended.

Prevention

When emotional stress is the known trigger, efforts should be made to redirect or avoid these stressors. Some may do well with biofeedback training, mediation, or yoga; others will find their own way of coping with these stressors.

General considerations to keep your hair healthy and minimize the appearance of hair loss include a nutritionally balanced diet; and gentle handling of your hair. Whenever possible, allow your hair to air-dry naturally; avoid tight hairstyles, such as braids, buns, or ponytails; and avoid compulsively twisting, rubbing, or pulling your hair.

How can we help you?

SKIN

# of surveys: 3952
Last updated: 6/16/2022 2:45 PM

PATIENT RATINGS

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definitely
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Compare our service to other similar practices

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Overall doctor performance

excellent
94.2%
very good
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The doctor listened to you attentively

excellent
93.9%
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The doctor took time to answer your questions

excellent
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The doctor explained treatment options

excellent
94.3%
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The doctor explained treatment options

excellent
92.0%
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Front desk performance

excellent
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Aesthetician performance

excellent
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Office comfort

excellent
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Parking

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66.4%
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Friendliness of the staff during appointment

excellent
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What WE DID WELL

(Answers:674)

No wait time for appointment - attentiveness of PA

#12011-05-04 19:03:57

Being treated promptly

#22010-12-22 09:39:41

filling out the patient form on the computer is excellent and much better than the paper forms usually used for doctors; extremely efficient interaction with the staff and doctor; gorgeous waiting room!

#32011-12-14 08:52:39

Thought Dr. Ringpfeil was very nice and professional!

#42021-09-05

jenny's attention was excelent

#52011-11-30 09:16:36

The doctor was very explainative and very friendly and precise.

#62010-11-22 10:46:33

Attention by all staff.

#72022-03-12

every thing was great.

#82021-12-15

THE MUSIC! WOW. IT REALLY WAS AMAZING. PLEASE DO A BEST OF CD.

#92022-01-16

Everyone was very professional, helpful and friendly. I loved entering my medical info on line and receiving all future info via email. Great way to save the environment!

#102010-12-16 10:06:03

What can we do better?

(answers:373)

tell the Dr. to stop snowboarding and come back to skiing..;-)

#12011-12-07 10:55:46

Today I had to wait 45 min. to see the Doctor. I understand that sometimes other appointments run over but I took time off work to come here and I felt like I spent most of my time here waiting to see her.

#22021-08-31

This has been one the best office that i have been to in forever.

#32021-11-23

don't think you could!!

#42021-09-28

Try to get enrolled as a provider in Tricare Prime!

#52021-10-30

My experience in the office today was absolutely excellent

#62022-04-07

NOPE; COULD NOT IMPROVE ON YOUR ARTISTRY IN HEALING ATMOSPHERE AND MEDICAL ATTENTIVENESS.

#72022-02-10

Have the patient internet working

#82011-09-08 11:08:45

Keep up the great work!

#92011-03-03 11:57:42

Couldn't be better!

#102021-10-26

Customer Rating : 4.6

Based on 351 ratings
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