The first step in determining how to help someone with hair loss is figuring out his or her diagnosis. There is no bypassing this step. The second step is determining a treatment plan that is based on the best medical evidence.
Plan B: What is plan B, doc?
After reviewing a treatment plan with my patients, I'm often asked what treatment will be considered next. "What's plan B, doc?" Well, every treatment plan needs Plan B as well as a Plan C and Plan D.
Consider the 28 year old female with androgenetic alopecia. The best treatment option for her based on all her facts, review of her blood tests and scalp exam might be topical minoxidil. Plan B might be oral spironolactone with or without minoxidil. Plan C might be the addition of a laser comb or changing the anti androgen used. Plan D for her might be a trial of PRP. A solid treatment plan has an alphabet of plans. Not guesswork and not a random pull out of a hat option. But rather options based on a delicate combination of medical science and expert consensus, and personal experience.
What about the 53 year old female with frontal fibrosing alopecia? Plan A for her might be finasteride & steroid injections with hydroxychloroquine as Plan B. Doxycycline is reserved for her as Plan C. For another patient with FFA, Plan A might start with hydroxychloroquine & steroid injections. For her, finasteride is not on the list given the past history of breast cancer the patient had. Plan B is doxycycline and plan C is methotrexate.
Every treatment plan should have an alphabet of plans. That does not necessarily mean one will need to move down the list but the physician should have a clear plan for how to navigate.
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