What You Need to Know About Treating Alopecia Areata

Alopecia is the medical term for hair loss. It can take a variety of forms, but the two most common are androgenic alopecia and alopecia areata. Both are characterized by baldness, but the pattern of loss varies.

Androgenic alopecia is male-pattern baldness that’s common in men as they grow older. With alopecia areata, the hair loss is unpredictable and the bald patches are about the size of a quarter. 

Regardless of your age, hair loss can impact your self-confidence. At Dermatology Associates of the Lowcountry, Oswald Mikell, MD, and our team understand the emotional toll hair loss can have. In this blog, Dr. Mikell discusses alopecia areata and how it can be treated.

Understanding alopecia areata

While other types of hair loss generally develop as you get older, most cases of alopecia areata are diagnosed in patients under age 30. This condition is characterized by small patches of hair loss that generally appear on the scalp, but they can develop anywhere on the body.

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease. The disease attacks your hair follicles, making hair fall out in patches. You might lose a significant amount of hair in a short time, or you might lose hair on only one side of your head. 

The amount and location of hair loss can vary between individuals. Some people only lose small patches of hair on the scalp. Others may have large bald patches that develop when smaller areas connect with one another. In some cases, people with alopecia areata may lose all of their hair.

If you have alopecia areata, your hair can grow back, but it’s possible that it will fall out again. Treatment for alopecia areata focuses on triggering hair growth and increasing the speed at which it grows.

Treatment options for alopecia areata

Treatment for alopecia areata can vary depending on the severity of your condition. Dr. Mikell will perform a comprehensive exam and talk with you about your symptoms and goals for treatment.


Corticosteroid treatments are often prescribed for autoimmune diseases, and they can work for alopecia areata as well. Corticosteroids can be injected directly into your scalp. They can also be delivered in the form of a topical cream or oral medication. 

Minoxidil is an over-the-counter topical treatment that can prevent further hair loss. Generally used to treat male-pattern hair loss, it can also encourage hair regrowth in people with alopecia areata.

Topical immunotherapy

If you have a significant amount of hair loss or you’ve experienced significant hair loss multiple times, Dr. Mikell may recommend topical immunotherapy. This treatment is applied directly to your scalp to trigger hair regrowth.

Lifestyle changes

Taking steps to reduce stress can help with alopecia areata-related hair loss. Stress may increase the amount of hair you lose, and finding healthy ways to manage stress may reduce your hair loss. 

Many people with alopecia areata find that wearing hats, wigs, or scarves to cover patches of hair loss can help minimize embarrassment. Covering your head will also protect your bare skin from sun damage.

No matter the level of hair loss you’re living with, Dr. Mikell can help you find an alopecia areata treatment that’s right for you. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Dermatology Associates of the Lowcountry today.

You Might Also Enjoy...

How Can I Help My Child Deal with Guttate Psoriasis?

Guttate psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that causes raised bumps on the skin. It’s most common in children, and seeing your child deal with painful lesions can make you feel helpless. Here’s what you need to know about diagnosis and treatment.

Tips for Living with Eczema This Winter

Dry, itchy, and irritated skin are all classic signs of an eczema flare-up. Dry air can exacerbate symptoms, and in the winter, dry air is unavoidable. Learn how to keep your skin healthy and comfortable even as the weather gets colder.

Dynamic vs. Static Wrinkles

Everyone gets wrinkles as they get older. But the best way to treat those wrinkles depends on where they are and why they formed. Learn more about the two main types of wrinkles so you can get the anti-aging treatment that’s right for you.

You Don’t Have to Live with Crow's Feet

Have you noticed pesky crow’s feet around your eyes? Everyone gets them as they age, but if these signs of aging bother you, it’s time to learn more about Botox® Cosmetic. It’s an effective crow’s feet treatment, and it could be an option for you.

Understanding the Types of Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is very common, but different types of cancer can look different. Take the time to understand the three most common types of skin cancer, so you can protect your skin and your health.

Is Your Medication Causing Your Rosacea?

Rosacea is a common skin condition that can make your facial blood vessels look large and your cheeks look flush. While it can be triggered by environmental factors, such as the sun and wind, some prescription medications can cause it, too.