Partial Responses to Treatments
There are four things that can happen when a patient receives treatment for Alopecia Areata:
1) the hair regrows fully (known as a "complete response")
2) the hair regrows partially (known as a "partial response")
3) treatment does not lead to any change. This can either be because the treatment does not work or because the treatment works a little but the rate of loss matches it.
4) hair loss gets worse. Usually this is because the patient's hair loss is active rather than the treatment itself causing hair loss. A small proportion of patients receiving steroid injections find their hair loss worsens with steroid injections. In most of these cases, the patient's alopecia is so active that the steroid injections could not overcome or stop the hair loss. The treatment itself usually does not make it worse when proper concentrations and doses are used. Of course there are exceptions.
This photos shows a partial response. Hairs are growing and many new "pointy" hairs can be seen. However, two tapered hairs are seen indicating inflammation beneath the skin. These "tapered" hairs will most likely fall out within days. The "pointy" ones likely will likely keep growing. This patient required a more aggressive treatment.
Dr. Jeff Donovan is a Canadian and US board certified dermatologist specializing exclusively in hair loss. To schedule a consultation, please call the Vancouver office at 604.283.9299