What is Alopecia and what treatments are available?

The condition of one’s hair is important to both men and women and self esteem.  In many ways, hair is an expression of personality, and many people take great  pride and effort keeping their hair looking its best. However, hair loss can occur at any time, whether because of age, medical problems or nutritional deficiencies. Problems of hair loss, such as alopecia, can be helped with a variety of localised treatments at Universal Hair & Scalp Clinic to stimulate follicular regrowth, arrest/slow down future hair loss and stabilise  the existing hair line.


Carol Johnson from Universal Clinic discusses alopecia with Ireland AM on TV3.


Please contact us for more information about our alopecia treatments:



What Is Alopecia?

Alopecia means hair loss. Hair may begin to fall out in clumps, leaving smooth, hairless patches. The hair loss can extend to all hair on the body or may be concentrated on the scalp. No matter how extensive the hair loss is, the hair follicles remain alive and are able to continue to grow hair once the underlying immune system problem is resolved. In some cases, the immune system may correct itself without treatment, but this is not always the case. Some types of alopecia are unpredictable and bald patches may appear, and disappear, in a cyclical fashion.

Causes of Alopecia Areata

Alopecia areata occurs when the body’s immune system begins to attack hair follicles that contain the roots of hair, resulting in bald patches or more extensive hair loss. Alopecia is not infectious and cannot be caught by other people. It can cause hair loss in patches, only on the scalp or all over the body. The individual may be otherwise healthy, and only experiences hair loss as a symptom of the underlying immune system problem.

Who Is at Risk?

A number of conditions can increase the risk for developing alopecia:

  • Individuals who have another autoimmune disease
  • Individuals with allergies
  • Individuals who have a history of hair loss
  • Individuals who have hair loss at an early age
  • Individuals with abnormal color, texture, shape or thickness of finger and toenails.

Types of Alopecia

Hair loss of this type is given a number of different names based on the extent of the problem:

  • Alopecia totalis – hair loss on the entire scalp
  • Alopecia universalis – hair loss on the whole body
  • Ciccatricial/frontal fibrosing Alopecia – post menopausal women are often effected with loss on the hair line which creates scarring.
  • Alopecia barb – hair loss in men to the beard region.
  • Traction Alopecia – from wearing weaves, hair extensions or pulling the hair too tightly.

Diagnosing Alopecia

The Trichologist will take a full medical history and give you a complete physical examination to determine the state of your hair and scalp. He or she will focus in particular on the scalp and areas of hair loss, as well as examining how remaining hair is growing. Blood tests may be required to determine whether underlying medical conditions, such as thyroid disorders, are influencing the hair loss. A sample of your hair may be taken or analysised under the Trichoscan microscope to detect any changes in structure, diameter and shaft. There is no single test to provide a diagnosis of alopecia, but by eliminating other problems and noting the pattern of hair loss, the Trichologist can make an accurate diagnosis.

Treatments for Alopecia

The recommended  treatment may depend on the extent of the hair loss, the location of the hair loss and how much the problem is impacting on the life of the patient

  • Corticosteroid injections – Injection of corticosteroid drugs into the bald areas are given once a month to stimulate new hair growth in certain types of alopecia.
  • Minoxidil – A 5 percent solution of minoxidil is applied topically twice each day to the affected area to stimulate hair growth. Sometimes, a cortisone cream is also recommended after the minoxidil treatment.
  • Anthralin – Anthralin is available in a cream or ointment form that is applied to the affected area once daily and is then washed off the skin surface. Hair growth may be seen after certain time of treatment.
  • Topical Immunotherapy Drugs – In this treatment, a topical immunotherapy drug is applied topically to the affected area, which produces an allergic rash. 
  • Psoralen with Ultraviolet A Light – Psoralen is a medication that makes the skin more sensitive to UV light. The medication is applied to the skin, which is then exposed to UVA light. This treatment is usually used for patients with large areas of hair loss.

Laser treatment to stimulate growth and encourage vasodilation of the effected region of hair loss.

Prognosis for Patients

Alopecia can be a problem that comes and goes in a cyclical fashion. At times, it can worsen.  However, if symptoms of alopecia are affecting your life and social interactions, you should be under the care of a Trichologist or Dermatologist who can provide treatments and advice for dealing with this disorder. Although you may not require continuous treatment, the Trichologist will be familiar with your case and will be able to provide treatments as they are needed. Fortunately, alopecia does not make the individual feel ill physically or shorten lifespan. However, treatment can help to encourage self esteem and can improve the quality of life as well as helping regrowth of hair.

Alopecia can be a disturbing problem, but a number of treatments are available to help individuals who are living with this immune system disorder feel better about their appearance. Call today to learn more about hair loss treatments that can improve your confidence and your quality of life.

Please contact us for more information about our alopecia treatments: