What is Alopecia Areata?
Alopecia is an autoimmune disorder that results in hair loss. Hair loss can develop anywhere on the body however it is more common on the scalp. Often it results in a few bald spots which are termed alopecia areata.
What causes Alopecia Areata?
Alopecia occurs when the white blood cells target the cells beneath the scalp. This causes the hair follicles to slowly shrink and/or close which will cause you to lose your hair. It prevents your hair from regrowing, or you lose the hair as soon as it grows back. Unfortunately to this day, scientists are unaware of what causes the body to react in this manner. Therefore, they cannot say what causes or influences alopecia areata.
Although there is no known cause, it can be passed genetically within your family line. According to medicalnewstoday.com, one in five people will have alopecia. As well as they may know a family member who suffers from alopecia areata.
What Are the Treatments for Alopecia Areata?
Until early 2022, there was no approved treatment for alopecia areata. Patients were using unapproved medications for ‘alopecia’ that would slow down the hair growth process. However, it does not stop the symptoms altogether.
However recently in June of 2022, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the systemic drug Olumiant (Baricitinib) for persons with severe alopecia areata. Olumiant is in fact the first FDA-approved drug for adult patients with this autoimmune condition. Systemic drugs like these treat the entire body rather than a specific area of the body.
Olumiant is an inhibitor that will prevent your immune system from attacking the hair follicles. Therefore, it will prevent you from experiencing any form of hair loss once you are experiencing hair loss. Once it stops, your hair growth cycle is able to proceed as per usual. You will be able to grow and retain your length as you would before.
Olumiant is formulated by Eli Lilly which is a pharmaceutical company that has been in the market for years. This company is known for producing drugs that aid in other autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.
As with most drugs, Eli Lily did take their patients through a number of phase trials. The participants were split into groups each taking different dosages (high or low) of the medication. After a year of testing, all the patients had an adequate amount of their hair being regrown.
Side Effects of Treatment for Alopecia Areata:
With every medication, there is the risk of experiencing side effects as your body gets familiar with the drug. Olumiant does have side effects such as headaches, acne, respiratory tract infections, nausea, high cholesterol, inflections, and others.
Participants in the study did experience side effects however we cannot comment on the extent of the side effects. According to the FDA.GOV, the FDA does not recommend the use of other inhibitors.
We are happy that there has been an FDA-approved drug for those who suffer from severe alopecia areata. They will be able to get some reprieve when dealing with this disorder that has affected their overall life.
In addition, it will be priced affordable for persons whether they have insurance or not. This is a step in the right direction for safe, effective, efficient, and affordable health care. For more information, you can read the FDA News Release on the Drug.