Good news on the hair front

Balding may be a thing of the past as new treatments show promise

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WHAT TO AVOID: Dramatic changes in weight or chronic stress can cause or worsen hair thinning.

WHAT TO AVOID: Dramatic changes in weight or chronic stress can cause or worsen hair thinning.


Newer biological medications proving successful in otherwise difficult hair conditions.


SIGNIFICANT advances are being made in tackling hair loss among men and women, with current trials showing impressive results, according to dermatologists.

Dr Yu-Chuan Lee, an Adelaide-based fellow of the Australasian College of Dermatologists, says progress has been such that "Perhaps in the future, balding will be optional."

Another fellow, Dr Pooja Sharma, from Melbourne, said dermatologists also providing hair transplant, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and low-level LED laser for androgenetic alopecia (male- or female-patterned hair loss).

Newer biological medications were also proving successful in otherwise difficult hair conditions like lichen planopilaris (a condition that can cause swelling and irritation in the skin, hair, nails and mucous membranes) and alopecia areata (patchy hair loss).

"Treatment of hair disorders is at an exciting phase," Dr Sharma said. "Biologics are now being used in a number of scarring and non-scarring alopecias that have not responded or only partially responded to conventional treatments resulting in significant morbidity."

Dr Sharma said clinical trials are currently enrolling patients with chronic severe alopecia areata, with success rates of up to 80 per cent being reported for off-label use of tofacitinib ( a drug used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and ulcerative colitis) in treating therapy-recalcitrant cases.

Tofacitinib has also been found to be useful in recalcitrant folliculitis decalvans (a cross between hair loss and folliculitis, or inflammation of hair follicles); sarcoidosis (inflammatory disease characterised by the formation of tiny collections of inflammatory cells called granulomas); and vitiligo (the loss of skin colour in blotches).

At the same time, a number of biologics such as IRAK-4 kinase inhibitor medications are being trialled for lupus, while pilot investigations are examining the use of the IL-23 inhibitor tildrakizumab for people with folliculitis decalvans, lichen planus (an inflammatory condition marked by itchy, bumpy, pink or purple rashes), and lichen planopilaris (a type of scarring hair loss).

A few tips:

  • Maintain a good balanced diet with adequate protein for healthy thick hair.
  • Avoid dramatic changes in weight or chronic stress, which can cause or worsen hair thinning.
  • Be aware that iron deficiency is the probably the most important cause of hair loss. The good news is that this will correct itself once it is addressed.

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