Light at the end of the tunnel for alopecia areata sufferers

We talk alopecia areata

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease with a complex genetic basis. There may be a pattern in the family of this type of hair loss but often it can appear in patients where there is no history of hair loss at all! It typically presents with patchy hair loss and can progress to total baldness. Hair loss can extend to other areas of the body such as the eyebrows, eyelashes and body hair. It can have a big impact on patients’ well-being. Treatment is often challenging but can include creams/lotions and injections if the hair loss areas are mild. If the area of hair loss is a bit more substantial, then consideration of oral medications and even immunosuppressive drugs may be needed. 

Trials on the use of medications called JAK inhibitors such as astofacitinib and ruxolinitib are on their way with early encouraging results. These medications have been used in other autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and trials are also on their way for psoriasis. Their safer profile and tolerability is much better when compared with currently used systemic therapies. A quick response may occur within 4 weeks which makes a world of difference to our patients. More than 75% of patients responded with at least 50% hair regrowth by week 12. But patients may need to continue therapy long term due to likely relapse if the treatment is discontinued.” 

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