Did you know that the American Hair Loss Association predicts that around two-thirds of men will experience some degree of appreciable hair loss by age 35; while 85% will have significantly thinning hair by age 50? Alopecia is an issue that has got men terrified all over the world, especially as it is manifesting very quickly, even if someone is in their 20s! That is why a lot of men are opting to take steroid injection treatments for alopecia, as it is believed to be quite effective in combating hair loss.
What causes alopecia?
Current evidence suggests that alopecia or alopecia areata is caused by an abnormality in the immune system that damages hair follicles. This particular abnormality leads to autoimmunity, a misguided immune system that tends to attack its own body. As a result, the immune system attacks particular tissues of the body. In alopecia areata, for unknown reasons, the body's own immune system attacks the hair follicles and disrupts normal hair formation. Biopsies of affected skin show immune lymphocytes penetrating into the hair bulb of the hair follicles.
What treatments can be pursued?
You must have seen advertisements and displays that proclaim certain pills, liquids, and procedures can magically re-grow hair. While some treatments are effective, the results differ and aren’t always guaranteed. Steroid injections are one of them. It involves using a needle to direct a liquid steroid into an area of skin. The injections are repeated in the same area over a few weeks. The procedure can hurt quite a bit, and some have even complained of bleeding scalps. Aftermath of steroid injections can include soreness, headaches & migraines, and scabs forming. The injection might also cause temporary skin thinning and the prednisone may cause weight gain, metabolic abnormalities, acne, and menstrual problems. However, the effects and results vary greatly depending upon several factors.
So what are steroid injections for alopecia?
Some doctors use steroid injections to boost the recovery of hair loss due to alopecia. These are corticosteroid injections in the scalp or oral steroids like prednisone. Don’t be under the misconception that it will work on all kinds of hair loss – this treatment isn’t used for baldness associated with aging. It is only recommended for individuals diagnosed with alopecia.
How does it work?
As mentioned, steroid injections are directed into bald patches of the scalp suppress the local immune reaction that occurs in alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss. They can allow the hair follicles to function normally again so hair can re-grow. An injection basically works as an anti-inflammatory agent to quell conditions that cause hair loss. While a scalp condition such as psoriasis doesn't cause hair loss itself, it is very uncomfortable and can lead to excess scratching — which can then result in someone pulling out the hair.
Who should get the steroid injections?
Remember that steroid injections aren’t for everyone, nor will they suit all types of hair and scalp conditions. For instance, if you are suffering from inflammation caused due to dandruff, you definitely shouldn’t under the treatment under any circumstances. Instead of moving right to steroid injections, patients might find their scalp responds to dandruff shampoo when regularly used. However, this is just one example. There are other cases where steroid injections won’t produce desired results or prove to be ineffective
What happens during a steroid injection appointment?
If you are sensitive, you can ask your doctor (or they will make the suggestion themselves) to apply a topical numbing cream or light freeze. This helps prepare the scalp for the injections. It can be uncomfortable, but these measures can aid in easing the pain slightly. Once that is over, the area is disinfected well, and you get the shot. The affected area is soothed by an ice pack, so the achy sensations are somewhat calmed. You shouldn’t color your hair or use curling/straightening irons for at least two days after getting the injection to avoid irritation.
How often should you get an injection?
Again this is a debatable issue, as opinions vary. The frequency of getting steroid injections depends on how long your inflammation is active. You should ideally get these shots every 4 to 6 weeks.
Never proceed with steroid injections for alopecia without consulting a doctor first or it can wreak havoc on your health. Talk to your doctor if it will be fine for you to pursue this treatment, and whether there are chances of positive results. Go ahead only if your doctor gives the green light.