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Want to know how to stop alopecia areata from spreading to other areas of the body — or at least from getting any worse? You’ve come to the right place.
Along with unexplained aches and pains, hair loss is one of the unfortunate, not-so-fun side effects of getting older. But knowing what type you’re dealing with (yep, there are different types of hair loss) can help you find the best ways to stop hair loss.
But that’s not the only type of hair loss. You might find round bald patches, a sign of another kind known as alopecia areata. These small patches might spread and join together to form larger bald patches.
This can understandably be distressing, and you’re probably looking for information on how to stop alopecia areata from spreading naturally.
Fortunately, there may be ways to prevent this hair loss from getting worse. Here’s what to know about how to stop alopecia areata from spreading
Half of knowing how to stop alopecia areata from spreading is knowing what’s causing your hair loss. But alopecia areata isn’t just hair loss — it’s caused by your immune system mistakenly attacking your hair follicles, which can result in spot hair loss on your scalp or all over your body.
There are three types of alopecia areata:
Patchy alopecia areata. This is one of the most common types of alopecia areata, occurring when someone experiences patches of hair loss.
Alopecia totalis. When people lose hair on their entire scalp, it’s known as alopecia totalis.
Alopecia universalis. In this rare type, there’s a complete or nearly complete loss of hair on the scalp, face and rest of the body.
This guide on alopecia areata goes more in-depth on the causes and symptoms of this hair loss.
Keep reading to learn how to stop alopecia areata from spreading naturally.
While there’s no cure for alopecia areata, some treatment options can help grow the hair back. Your immune system attacks your hair follicles but doesn’t usually completely destroy them — meaning new hair growth is possible.
It’s important to talk to a medical doctor or dermatologist for a proper diagnosis if you think you have alopecia areata. They may complete a physical exam, with a focus on your scalp, hair and nails, or order a blood test. You might also be asked about your symptoms or if you have any family members with a similar pattern of hair loss.
Your healthcare provider can determine the best course of treatment to keep it from spreading based on how severe your alopecia areata is, where you’re losing hair, your age, health and other factors.
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Once your healthcare provider or a dermatologist has determined your condition, they can figure out how to stop alopecia areata from spreading — or at least help curb your existing hair loss issue.
Corticosteroids like prednisone work to reduce inflammation for a number of ailments, from arthritis to carpal tunnel syndrome — and even alopecia areata. Treatment options may include corticosteroid injections or oral corticosteroids.
Corticosteroid injections are considered an effective treatment for people with patchy hair loss. In one study of 101 patients with patchy hair loss, more than 80 percent who were treated with these injections experienced hair regrowth in just over 12 weeks.
These injections are done about every four to six weeks, with new hair growth occurring after about four weeks of treatment. There are few side effects, but some people may feel minor discomfort from the needle or notice temporary depressions in the skin that disappear over time.
While injections are usually a more effective option, you might take oral corticosteroids like prednisolone instead.
Commonly known as Rogaine®, minoxidil can help keep hair growth going once it’s started by another treatment. This medication can also stimulate hair growth by moving hair follicles into the anagen (or growth) phase of the hair growth cycle.
A review of multiple studies found that, over a 48-week period, minoxidil resulted in a total hair count increase of up to 18 percent as well as noticeably thicker hair for some participants.
Other topical treatments can include topical corticosteroids, which act in the same way as corticosteroid injections by reducing inflammation around the hair follicle.
Minoxidil isn’t the only FDA-approved treatment for alopecia areata.
A Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor called Olumiant was recently approved to treat adult patients with severe alopecia areata. This drug works by blocking the activity of specific enzymes, thereby reducing inflammation.
The side effects of this medication include headache, acne, high cholesterol, stomach pain, urinary tract infection and fatigue.
Generic for Rogaine®, this FDA-approved over-the-counter version of topical minoxidil is used for regrowth on the crown of the head.
This is the FDA-approved dynamic duo. When used together, men saw better results in clinical trials compared to using either alone.
If you’re looking for something effective but don’t want too many steps in your routine, this once-a-day pill could be right for you.
Clinically proven to regrow hair in 3-6 months, no pills required.
Alopecia areata may have you experiencing patchy hair loss from your scalp, beard or other body parts. Fortunately, there are ways to stop alopecia areata from spreading and causing you more discomfort.
Conventional treatment plans typically include corticosteroid injections or topical treatments. Corticosteroids work by reducing the inflammation caused by the autoimmune disease alopecia, while topicals like minoxidil stimulate new hair growth. We offer minoxidil as part of our range of men’s hair loss treatments.
In addition to using medication, you may benefit from making changes to your lifestyle to reduce the severity of alopecia areata and prevent your symptoms from getting worse.
For example, using sunscreen or wearing a hat to protect areas of your skin with noticeable hair loss will safeguard your skin from UV-related damage. You can also use our guide on how to cover up bald spots for a short-term solution — or while you’re undergoing treatment for alopecia areata.
If you’re struggling with stress, anxiety or depression as a result of your condition, it’s important to talk to a mental health professional. You can connect with a mental health provider from home using our online mental health services, allowing you to easily access support and ongoing care.
Kate Hagerty is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner with over a decade of healthcare experience. She has worked in critical care, community health, and as a retail health provider.