Researchers in Poland have been testing a new trichoscopy-based tool they believe may help to predict the outcome and potential success of treatment for Alopecia Areata.
In this instance, a device used in predicting the likely outcome from Alopecia Areata treatment for the mildest form, which causes patchy hair loss to the scalp only, was explored by researchers from the Department of Dermatology at the Medical University of Warsaw.
According to a June 2019 article published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, the Polish team recognised the lack of ‘evidence-based data’ for predicting Alopecia Areata patients’ potential response to treatment.
They then investigated whether taking a trichoscopy-based approach could help them determine possible treatment outcomes in a small-scale trial of 65 participants.
A trichoscope is essentially a small, handheld magnifying camera that allows hair loss specialists to see the scalp at a much larger scale and in high definition. This can give them a better chance of diagnosing and estimating the likelihood of treatment response success for certain hair loss conditions, including Alopecia Areata.
Some of the key aspects specialists advised they looked for in participants’ scalps two months into the trial included black dots, question mark hairs and broken hairs.
Spotting positive and negative signs
Based on their findings from this small group, the Warsaw researchers reported that using a trichoscope could help specialists to determine the likelihood of patients experiencing positive or negative hair regrowth results from Alopecia Areata treatment by looking out for certain signs.
They noted that ‘upright regrowing hairs and pigtail hairs are positive, while black dots, broken hairs, exclamation mark hairs, and tapered hairs are negative predictive markers’.
One critical piece of information is missing from the article, however: the type of treatment these patients used.
There are a number of therapies open to most Alopecia Areata patients whose hairloss is contained to the scalp only. These range from immunotherapy and steroid injections, to topical, at-home applications of high strength minoxidil.
The type of treatment being used will surely have a significant bearing on the results so, whilst using a trichoscope to help monitor a patient’s hair growth progress is not a new idea, ensuring the most effective hair loss solution is used for the individual’s specific needs is likely the most important aspect.
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