A person with Alopecia Universalis usually loses all of their head and body hair permanently. Thanks to new treatments, however, many patients are finally seeing hope for regaining their hair one day. One of these treatments is Tofacitinib, a rheumatoid arthritis drug that has successfully regrown the hair of a man suffering from Alopecia Universalis.
The 25-year old man was treated at Yale University by Dr. Brett King. The results from the treatment were published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology and are quite extraordinary.
The patient had no hair for 7 years, but after 3 months of using the drug, his eyelashes, eyebrows, and hair on his head regrew. It took him a total of 8 months of treatment to regain a full head of hair.
Before we dive into the details of the new alopecia universalis treatment options, though, let’s take a closer look at the condition and what causes it.
What Is Alopecia?
Alopecia is a medical condition that causes the hair to fall out. It is an autoimmune disorder that can cause you to shed hair from your head at different rates.
Some people might lose a lot of hair, and some less. While it is a temporary condition for some, others’ hair typically regrows and falls out again.
There are many types of alopecia. The most severe is alopecia universalis, which causes a person to lose all of their head and body hair.
What Is Alopecia Universalis?
Alopecia universalis is an autoimmune condition that causes complete hair loss from the scalp and body. It is the advanced version of alopecia areata, which causes patches of hair to fall off the head.
The condition occurs when a person’s immune system attacks their hair follicles by mistaking them for invaders. Various factors contribute to the disorder, which has made it a nearly untreatable medical condition in the past. But thanks to clinical breakthroughs, some treatment methods have proven to be effective.
Causes Of Alopecia Universalis
There are 3 possible causes of alopecia universalis:
- Environmental conditions
A Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology report notes that if a woman carries twins, there is a 50% chance of both being diagnosed with alopecia areata. Both environmental factors and genes can play a critical role in the development of alopecia universalis.
Sometimes, multiple environmental factors can contribute. They can include allergies, hormones, and illnesses. A person can be subject to one or more of these conditions to trigger whole-body hair loss.
According to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation, the alopecia universalis condition might run in the family. However, both parents need to pass on the specific genes for the child to have the condition. If someone inherits the condition through their parents’ genes, it is known as a polygenic disease.
Prolonged stress factors from work and personal life can also lead to alopecia universalis. While it has not been clinically proven, stress can be a legitimate factor.
Stress can affect mental health, leading to anxiety attacks. Stress and anxiety can lower a person’s immune system, which can trigger hair loss. While there have been no medical studies to back up this idea, there are some legitimate arguments.
Telogen effluvium is a hair loss condition caused by stress. It is a temporary condition and does not depend on genes or immunity. It is triggered by factors like poor mental and physical health, medications, stressful experiences, and hormones. Telogen effluvium, however, is not related to the universalis variant.
Who Is More Affected, Men Or Women?
Both men and women can develop alopecia universalis. Both parents of someone with alopecia universalis need to have the condition to pass it on as a genetic factor. Therefore, women and men are both prone to this hair loss disorder.
Treatment Options For Alopecia Universalis
Tofacitinib, a medication for rheumatoid arthritis, had helped the 25-year-old man treated at Yale regrow his hair in 8 months. According to Dr. Brett King, the discovery of this medication for alopecia universalis has given way to more clinical experiments to help people regrow their hair.
The patient under observation also suffered from plaque psoriasis, which makes scaly red patches form on the skin. These patches were the only areas that saw hair growth before treatment. Since medical tests have shown Tofacitinib to treat psoriasis, Dr. King wanted to try it for both conditions.
How does it work?
Dr. King referred to Dr. Angela Christiano’s work as his inspiration for using Tofacitinib. Dr. Angela Christiano is a scientist at Columbia University who conducted studies that examined the effects of the drug on mice with alopecia areata.
Tofacitinib usually works to address alopecia by shutting down the immune response that attacks hair follicles. A test on the young patient proved this theory by allowing him to experience hair regrowth.
It is, of course, crucial to note that the patient took 10 mg of the medicine each day for 2 months before hair began to regrow on his face and head. Before that, he had no hair on his body for 7 years.
After the next 3 months of taking the medication, he had a head full of hair. After 5 months, he had eyebrows, lashes, armpit hair, and other body hair. All in all, it took him 8 months to regain his body hair without any lab test reports of side effects or abnormalities.
How this news affects patients with alopecia universalis
The tests are ongoing, and it might be too soon to call Tofacitinib a medically proven medication for alopecia universalis. Lab tests continue with clinical trials, but the drug does offer hope for patients with this disorder. If approved, it might become a successful cream-based medication to treat alopecia areata and alopecia universalis.
Other potential treatments
Other potential treatments have emerged as well. According to a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA,), a teenage girl who had alopecia universalis took Ruxolitinib to treat the condition. It is a topical medication for bone marrow problems.
The girl successfully treated her hair loss by using it on her eyebrow area for many months. There was a significant regrowth in her eyebrows.
Call Dr. Jeffrey Epstein Today For Hair Restorative Surgery
There are all different kinds of hair loss. While waiting for new treatments is the best option for patients with alopecia universalis, a successful hair restoration surgery is an effective treatment for pattern baldness. If you live in Miami and are suffering from hair loss, call Dr. Jeffrey Epstein, a top hair transplant surgeon, at (305) 666-1774 to schedule a consultation.