The side effects of common medications to treat Alopecia

The side effects of common medications to treat Alopecia

I’m not advocating for or against medical treatment for Alopecia. That’s your own personal decision to make.

But I believe that we all need to be well informed before making decisions on our options.

All drugs have side effects. No exception. In most cases, drugs don’t cure anything. Look closely. Any medicine only works by managing symptoms, and your body pays a price in the process.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended as medical advice.⁠ It does not contain all possible information about products mentioned.⁠ Please seek advice from your healthcare and medical professional for your own personal situation.

Kenalog steroid injections

Injecting steroids on the head is probably the most widely prescribed medical treatment for Alopecia. Triamcinolone (Kenalog) is a steroid solution injected to the scalp of patients with Alopecia Areata.⁠

Despite having been used for 50 years, there are no published randomized controlled clinical trials (RCTs) to examine the efficacy, safety, and duration of effect. A study by Columbia University documented that different doctors use different dosage or strength, and the efficacy and safety of alternate doses have never been examined in well-designed randomized controlled trials.⁠

(Rxlist.com) Side effects of Kenalog-40 (triamcinolone acetonide) include allergic reactions, sleep problems (insomnia), mood swings, headache, euphoria, spinning sensation (vertigo), dizziness, nausea, bloating, appetite changes, stomach or side pain, stomach upset, acne, scaling or other skin changes, a wound that is slow to heal, thinning hair, bruising or swelling, sweating more than usual, irregular menstrual periods, redness or pain at the injection site, or weight gain.⁠

Minoxidil Solution (common brand name Rogaine)

“Minoxidil belongs to a class of drugs known as vasodilators. It is NOT KNOWN how minoxidil causes hair growth. This medication is NOT used for sudden/patchy hair loss, unexplained hair loss (e.g., no family history of hair loss), or hair loss after giving birth. Do NOT use this product if you are 18 years old or younger.” – WebMD.com⁠

“Minoxidil topical will not cause permanent regrowth of scalp hair. You must continue using the product to keep the regrowth of your hair.” – Drugs.com⁠

Clobetasol: Should this highly potent steroid really be so widely prescribed for children?

Clobetasol Propionate is a HIGHLY POTENT STEROID used to treat skin conditions that respond to steroid medication.⁠

Drugs.com: “… because of this medicine’s toxicity, it should be used with caution. Children may absorb large amounts through the skin, which can cause serious side effects. If your child is using this medicine, follow your doctor’s instructions very carefully. Safety and efficacy have not been established in children younger than 12 years of age and the use of clobetasol topical cream, foam, gel, ointment, or scalp solution IS NOT RECOMMENDED. The safety and efficacy of clobetasol topical lotion, shampoo, or spray HAVE NOT BEEN ESTABLISHED IN CHILDREN and USE IS NOT RECOMMENDED.”⁠

“Using too much of this medicine or using it for a long time may increase your risk of having ADRENAL GLAND PROBLEMS. The risk is greater for children and patients who use large amounts for a long time.”⁠

Xeljanz (Tofacitinib)

“Xeljanz (tofacitinib) blocks the activity of certain enzymes in the body that affect immune system function.⁠

Tofacitinib affects your immune system. You may get infections more easily, even serious or fatal infections. ⁠

You should not use Xeljanz if you have a serious infection.⁠

If you’ve ever had hepatitis B or C, using Xeljanz can cause this virus to become active or get worse.⁠

Using Xeljanz may increase your risk of developing certain cancers, such as lymphoma or skin cancer.⁠

It is not known whether tofacitinib will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Tofacitinib may affect your ability to have children during treatment and in the future.” – Drugs.com⁠

Xeljanz (Tofacitinib) is a Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor drug that’s making the rounds as a “promising drug” for Alopecia. Thanks, but NO THANKS!⁠

Jakafi (Ruxolitinib): a Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor drug

“Ruxolitinib works by blocking certain enzymes in the body that affect blood cell production.⁠

Ruxolitinib is used to treat… bone marrow disorders that that affect your body’s ability to produce blood cells.⁠

Using ruxolitinib may increase your risk of developing skin cancer.⁠

It is not known whether ruxolitinib will harm an unborn baby.⁠

You should not breast-feed while you are using ruxolitinib.⁠

Ruxolitinib is not approved for use by anyone younger than 18 years old.” – Drugs.com⁠

Jakafi (Ruxolitinib) is a Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor drug that’s making the rounds as a “promising drug” for Alopecia. Thanks, but NO THANKS!⁠

Cyclosporine: A strong immunosuppressant for organ transplant patients

Cyclosporine is a STRONG immunosuppressant drug that works by weakening your body’s immune system, to help prevent it from rejecting a transplanted organ. It’s used in people who have received a liver, kidney, or heart transplant.⁠

Because your immune system is what protects you from infection, cancer, and other harmful diseases, weakening it in hope of getting some hair growth means weakening your ability to fight against infection, cancer, and other harmful diseases.⁠

Methotrexate: A strong, aggressive medication with serious side effects

A strong medication, an aggressive therapy used to treat certain types of cancer or to control rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease.⁠

“Methotrexate can cause serious or life-threatening side effects.⁠

Methotrexate can harm an unborn baby or cause birth defects, whether the mother or father is taking this medicine.⁠

Methotrexate can be toxic to your organs, and may lower your blood cell counts. Your blood will need to be tested often, and you may need an occasional liver biopsy.”⁠ – Drugs.com.⁠

Conclusion

Side effects of Alopecia treatment medications on Winning Alopecia

We’ve seen 8 doctors for my daughter’s Alopecia. They got nothing. And the doctors are actually being responsible by saying there is nothing they can give to a child for her Alopecia.⁠

Because all drugs inherently come with side effects and don’t cure much of anything, it becomes a battle of figuring out if the likely improvement in symptoms are worth the damages of the side effects. At the end of the day, it comes down to the question of “What price are you willing to pay for what you’ll likely get, or not get?”⁠

I’ve been able to turn my daughter’s health and Alopecia around without using a single drop of medicine – no judging if you do use meds, it’s a personal choice so do what works for you.⁠

About

SC | Winning Alopecia

All information on this website is meant for informational purposes only. It contains my own personal opinions and interpretation of acquired information. The statements on this website have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products and information on this website are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease. Readers are advised to do their own research and make decisions in partnership with their health care provider. If you are pregnant, nursing, have a medical condition or are taking any medication, please consult your physician.

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