Findings from a small scale study by researchers from the Faculty of Medicine at Zagazig University, Egypt, have added more weight to the theory that platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy may be a beneficial treatment for Alopecia Areata (AA).
In a paper published on 10th May 2019 in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, the team provided an overview of its trial into the the safety and efficacy of PRP for Alopecia Areata in comparison to intralesional steroid treatment, which is already available.
This follows on from separate research data released earlier the same month, also suggesting PRP may benefit Alopecia Areata hair regrowth.
Two groups of patients, each comprising 40 participants - a mix of men and women all with confirmed Alopecia Areata diagnoses - received different forms of treatment. Group I was treated with intralesional steroids while group II was treated with PRP.
Both of these therapies involve scalp injections with different hair loss solutions, either steroids or a platelet-dense mixture which is produced from the patient's own blood. This is done by taking blood from their arm then spinning it to separate the components, before the enriched blood is extracted and injected back into their body via the scalp.
Patients were monitored for six months in total - 3 during treatment and 3 post-treatment.
According to the study manuscript as a result of dermoscopic evaluation and hair regrowth scores allocated to each participant just before starting treatment (baseline), then at the 2, 4, 6, 8, and 12 week marks, both groups saw improved hair regrowth.
Group I, the steroid group, recorded 26 out of 40 members (65%) experiencing 'greater hair re-growth', which was 5% less than the 29 patients from the PRP group (group II) who reported the same outcome. However, it was the different relapse rates noted in Group I and Group II which proved more interesting.
The study authors state, "There was significant re‐growth of pigmented hair and decrease in dystrophic hair (P < 0.001) by dermoscopic evaluation in both groups. The difference between both groups was insignificant (P = 0.57). At follow‐up, two (5%) patients in group II had relapse compared to 10 (25%) patients in group I."
These results overall led them to conclude "Platelets rich plasma is safe and promising therapeutic option in AA."
Trialling potential treatments for Alopecia Areata - the scalp only form which causes sudden, patchy hairloss - and obtaining meaningful results can be tricky.
This autoimmune disorder affects the hair growth cycle, causing it to pause normal hair production; this is generally a temporary issue, with hair regrowth resuming naturally within a year of its onset in many cases.
The problem is that if or when regular hair growth will resume cannot be predicted. Therefore, it can be difficult - especially in small-scale studies - to determine whether regrowth occurs spontaneously or as a result of a specific treatment therapy - or due to a combination of both.
Belgravia superintendent pharmacist and senior hair loss specialist, Christina Chikaher advises, "It is for this reason that, whilst there are many potentially interesting applications for PRP - and some data which does suggest it shows promise for Alopecia Areata and other hair loss conditions - until reliable, independent evidence is seen from randomised, double-blind, large-scale clinical trials, it remains an unproven treatment for hair loss of any kind."
Adults looking to help accelerate hair regrowth in cases of the scalp-only form, may be suitable for a personalised course of Alopecia Areata treatment featuring components including high strength minoxidil - a topical medication currently MHRA-licensed and FDA-approved for the treatment of Male and Female Pattern Hair Loss - following an in-person or online consultation.
For the more extensive phenotypes - Alopecia Totalis and Alopecia Universalis - whereby hair on other areas of the head and body are also affected, and for children with any version, it is best to seek advice from a GP or dermatologist given treatments for these iterations are still being developed.
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