Lupus is an autoimmune disorder where the body’s first line of defense loses its abilities to distinguish between invaders and the body’s ally cells (own tissues and cells.) In healthy individuals, the immune system is more precise when selecting the enemy; however, in lupus antibodies are relatively more hyperactive, and extensively less specific. The persistent attacks of antibodies on healthy tissue and cells leads to organ damage over a period of time. The symptoms of lupus are vast and vary from one person to another. Some of the symptoms of lupus include arthritis, joint pain, fatigue, oral ulcers, photosensitivity, skin rash, and hair loss. The focus of the article will be entirely on lupus hair loss and its treatments.
Lupus hair loss and treatments
Follicular units, like any unit of cells, respond to the adverse effects of antibody attacks negatively. Generally, hair grows back after a lupus flare ends. However, depending on how frequently the flares occur and the length of them, hair loss can become permanent as a result.
The treatment for permanent hair loss begins for the most part by controlling the condition. Depending on the degree of progression and intensity of the disease, treatment plans are tailored for every patient based on the individual variety. Once the underlying cause of hair loss, Lupus, is monitored and under control, patients can then consider hair restoration treatments.
♠ Non-permanent lupus hair loss
For hair loss that is not permanent, patients can opt for treatments that strengthen hair roots, such as PRP therapy or minoxidil. Propose the procedures in interest to your doctor, and discuss your options. Both PRP and minoxidil can stimulate growth in weakened follicular units. PRP therapy draws blood from the patient to separate and extract growth factors, which are then injected in the scalp to activate metabolic activities related to proliferation. PRP is injected once a month, and patients may need anywhere between one to eight sessions depending on the progression of hair loss.
Minoxidil is a spray that is applied twice daily and promotes circulation in the area and consequently, growth. Unlike PRP therapy, minoxidil can have side effects; therefore, when considering any of the treatments, you must discuss your options with your doctor.
♠ Permanent hair loss
As for irreversible hair loss, patients with lupus may consider surgical hair restoration methods such as FUE hair transplants. In general, any kind of permanent hair loss cannot be reversed in any other method than hair transplants. Follicular units that are still viable are relocated to areas of hair loss where they generate growth.
Typically, follicular units can not be revived post severe trauma. Therefore, before a lupus patient opts for the surgery, it is essential for the patient to have their condition under control because the extracted follicular units do not grow back. In other words, the healthy follicular units extracted and relocated to new areas, are a loss for the donor region. Which is why the density of the donor region is an influential factor when determining the eligibility of a patient.
If hair loss becomes permanent after surgery, patients may not be eligible for a second round since donor regions may not be able to cover the newly appearing balding scalp.