Doctors have recently discovered that an eczema drug could have the power to restore the hair in those suffering from alopecia areata. After treating a teenager with the drug for severe eczema in the US, doctors were astonished to find it caused significant hair regrowth.
So, could the drug prove to be the hope alopecia areata sufferers have been waiting for?
Possible hair restoration drug
The eczema drug, known as Dupilumab, was found to trigger hair regrowth when it was used to treat a 13-year-old who had suffered from alopecia totalis since she was two years old. She was being treated for severe eczema which has been treatment-resistant since she was seven months old.
In July 2017 she started Dupilumab treatment, receiving injections of the drug each week. It was six weeks into the treatment that she started to discover small, fine hairs growing on her scalp after many years of total hair loss. Within seven months, her scalp was covered with pigmented hair.
The teen took a two-month break from treatment while sorting out her health insurance, in which time the hairs started to fall out. Upon returning to the treatment, the hairs began to regrow again.
Now, researchers have submitted a proposal to start a clinical trial to see just how effective Dupilumab could be at combatting alopecia areata. The fact that hairs fell out once the drug was stopped is also something researchers will need to look into if they want to use it as a potential cure for the condition.
What is alopecia areata?
Alopecia areata is one of the more severe forms of hair loss. It is an autoimmune disease which causes small patches of hair from the scalp and body, to randomly fall out. It ranges in severity and is caused when the immune system begins attacking hair cells.
The most severe form of the condition is alopecia totalis, where the patient loses all of their hair and it typically doesn’t grow back. However, not all forms of alopecia areata are permanent.
As it stands, there is no cure for alopecia areata, but there are ways to treat the condition.
What current alopecia areata treatments are available?
Topical agents such as Minoxidil and Corticosteroid cream can help to treat mild, temporary forms of the disease. Steroid injections can also help to clear up mild cases of alopecia areata presenting as small patches of hair loss.
Hair transplants aren’t a good treatment option as they require donor hairs to be taken from the side or back of the scalp. This works when treating male pattern baldness, as those areas of the scalp are usually resistant to hair loss, but alopecia areata doesn’t follow a pattern and the transplanted hair follicles could potentially be affected.