Are There Any Options for Treating Scarring Alopecia?'

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Question: I am writing on behalf of my Mother who suffers from scarring alopecia and has been told it wont grow back. I want to offer her some advice on people to contact and suggest options for her because it is causing her anxiety and, as such, she is not being proactive. Any help would be much appreciated.

Man and his MumAnswer: Hi, John. We understand your mother's concerns - any type of hair loss can be distressing but given scarring alopecia is generally permanent, it can cause even more anxiety.

If your mother has seen a hair loss specialist and they have correctly diagnosed her condition as being scarring alopecia (also known as cicatricial alopecia) they should have also been able to confirm the prognosis. Therefore, if they have said it will not grow back - as this is the most likely outcome with this particular hair loss condition - it is likely to be true.

Hair loss treatment stimulates the follicles but where these are irreparably damaged or dead, as is the case with scarring alopecia, there is nothing to work with. If she would like a second opinion, a separate specialist can take a look, however, it is generally the case that pharmaceutical treatments will not work for scarring alopecia. That said, if some of the follicles are not as badly damaged. a course of high strength minoxidil may help, but really it depends on how many active follicles remain as to whether this is worthwhile.

What you may be better off doing is making an appointment with a reputable hair restoration expert to discuss whether your mother may be suitable for a hair transplant. Often in these cases surgical restoration can help, although suitability is always decided on a case-by-case basis.

If your mother is not open to the idea of a transplant, or if she proves unsuitable, there are modern, hi-tech wigs, also known as 'hair replacement systems' which, whilst expensive, can look incredibly realistic. These are the only real options available as, whilst there are clinical trials currently underway investigating potential treatments for scarring alopecia, these are still in the early stages and may take up to 12 years to become available. We are sorry not to have better news for you but hopefully this gives you a better understanding of the situation.

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