Post written by Jeff Donovan MD PhD FRCPC, Dermatologist & Hair Transplant Surgeon, Assistant Professor, University of Toronto
PRP is increasingly being used by hair loss specialists to treat hair loss, particularly genetic hair loss. Current evidence suggests it helps 50-70 % of patients with genetic hair loss. Whether PRP helps other types of hair loss conditions is not clear.
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition that affects about 2 % of the world. In this condition, inflammation at the base of the hair follicle causes the hair to fall out. Patients typically have circular patches of hair loss but total hair loss is also possible. Typical treatment for alopecia areata include steroid injections to suppress the inflammation at the base of the hair follicle and this helps a large proportion of patients to regrow hair. PRP not only contains growth factors but contains anti-inflammatory properties as well. Indeed, these anti-inflammatory properties make it a potentially useful treatment for alopecia areata.
PRP in Alopecia Areata
In a new study recently published in the British Journal of Dermatology gives us new hope that PRP may be helpful for this challenging condition. Researchers from Italy and Israel set out to study the benefit of PRP in patients with alopecia areata and compare how well the treatment worked compared to the standard treatment – that being steroid injections.
The researchers studied 45 patients with alopecia areata. The study was extremely well designed with set up of a randomized double-blind, placebo- and active-controlled study. In the study, 60 % of patients treated with PRP had complete remission at 12 months compared to 27 % of patients treated with steroid injections. Furthermore at 6 months after treatment, 38 % of patients receiving steroid injections had relapse compared to none of the patients form the PRP group. At 12 months, 71 % of pateints in the steroid injection group had a relapse compared to only 31 % in the PRP treatment group. Overall, PRP was found to be more effective than steroid injections.
This is a really exciting study. PRP has very little side effects because it makes use of the patient’s own blood. Further study with larger numbers of patients is needed to confirm the beneficial role of PRP in alopecia areata. However, this initial study gives us hope that this indeed may be a good treatment modality.
Trink A et al. A randomized, double-blind, placebo- and active-controlled, half-head study to evaluate the effects of platelet rich plasma on alopecia. British Journal of Dermatology 2013; 169: 690-94