What Are the Treatments for Scarring Alopecia?

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A wig sits on a foam head on a white counter. (Image: BrianAJackson/iStock/Getty Images)

Scarring alopecia, or cicatricial alopecia, refers to any disorder or injury that destroys the sebaceous (oil) glands and hair follicles at the second layer of the skin, causing potentially permanent hair loss. The treatment for scarring alopecia depends on its severity and specific cause. In some instances, topical creams and steroids may be the most effective treatment, but in severe cases, surgery or the use of wigs, hairpieces or hats may be necessary to cover the permanently scarred regions of the head.

Anti-Inflammatory Medications

The objective of treating some types of scarring alopecia is to reduce the number of lymphocytes that attack and destroy the hair follicles. To do this, doctors may prescribe oral medications and topical ointments that contain corticosteroids--steroids that boost your immune response--to help in the regulation of inflammation. Although not all forms of scarring alopecia respond to medication, medical treatment can improve hair growth in less severe situations.

Anti-Fungal Creams

Ringworm and other fungal infections may result in scarring alopecia if they are not treated effectively and in a timely manner. See a doctor to determine which fungal cream is right for you, which will depend on the specific fungal infection causing your hair loss.

Surgery

Once scarring alopecia has gone into remission, surgical treatment may be an option to restore lost hair. Scalp reduction is the most common practice, where the scarred tissue is removed and the part of the scalp that still has hair is pulled over the previously bald area. In addition, hair transplants may be done to fill in specific regions where hair loss is still excessive. Unfortunately, with scarring alopecia, you always risk the possibility of the initial skin disease causing inflammation again and baldness reoccurring. Also, procedures may cost thousands of dollars, can be painful and take over six to eight months of recovery according to research by the Mayo Clinic.

Wigs and Hairpieces

Sometimes the best treatment is to accept your situation and find tolerable ways to embrace it. With scarring alopecia, it is very likely your hair loss will be permanent. Utilizing wigs, hats or hairpieces may make it easier to mask your hair loss and regain your self-confidence. Shop around for whatever wig, hat or hairstyle works best on you.

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