Alopecia Update (and what we’re trying)

When we saw our pediatrician for Jessie’s annual visit, we talked about Jessie’s Alopecia Areata (hair loss).  He ordered some blood work, to be sure there wasn’t anything else going on with Jessie’s immune system and the blood work came back within normal ranges.  We are relieved to know there isn’t anything more serious going on.  We asked if he knew of anything else we could do, or if he thought visiting the dermatologist again would be of any benefit.  His office made an appointment for us with the dermatologist we had seen once before several years ago.

Revisiting the dermatologist

The doctor reminded us that there is no cure for Alopecia Areata and that it’s possible we will be dealing with this as a life-long condition.  There are treatments we can try that may help her hair regrow, but she might (and likely will with her history of it so far) lose it again and again.

When she examined the patchy bald spots on Jessie’s scalp, Dr. R. pointed out the difference in the skin color on the front part of Jessie’s head versus all the other bald spots.  When she pointed it out, I could see that there was a difference, but it wasn’t something I had noticed or would notice if she hadn’t pointed it out.  All of the spots in other places had a pinker tint to the skin, which she said indicated current inflammation, whereas the front part of her head was a different (not pink) skin tone.

Dr. R.  said because there wasn’t current inflammation on the front part of her scalp, she felt less hopeful that the hair there would re-grow as a result of the steroid treatment she was prescribing.  We felt pretty devastated with this news.  When she saw the looks on our faces, she did follow-up with that it was possible, as the steroid treats the whole body.

We’re Trying Oral Steroids & Using a Topical Steroid

I had asked our pediatrician if oral steroids were an option and he had said not likely, because of the risk of side effects.  Our dermatologist though said this would be short-term use, 4 weeks, and she felt safe about that length of time.

So, we’re giving it a whirl.

I was worried that the oral steroids would affect Jessie’s sleep.  When our oldest was about 7 and took a steroid, I wasn’t sure one of us was coming out of that week alive.   She slept much less than normal that week and had dark circles by week-end and I felt like a crazy mama.  Thankfully, it hasn’t affected Jessie’s sleep much if at all.

She has, however, been hungry almost constantly since day 2. Although Jessie is overweight and I won’t say she eats healthfully, she doesn’t usually snack more than the average person, so constantly saying she’s hungry is out of the norm for her.  The first 4 days she took 5 tablets, then 4 tablets for 4 days and the dose will continue to taper off.  It is my hope that as her dose tapers so will her constant desire to eat 🙂

We are also again using the topical steroid 2 times per day.  I don’t know what form you would say it is in.   It’s not a cream, its wet and comes out in drops.  Jessie complained of the wet feeling.  I wasn’t even sure how to apply it properly.  I’ve started to use a cotton ball which leaves her head less wet feeling and that is less annoying to her.  It’s a 2 weeks on 1 week off regimen.

Natural Remedies We’re Planning to Try

A couple of days before Jessie’s dermatology appointment someone sent me a link about 9 Natural Treatments for Alopecia.  I spent some time yesterday following links in the article and learning more about each of the 9 options listed.  Each of the natural options I’m listing below are from this article by Dr. Axe, Alopecia Areata:  9 Natural Ways to Treat Hair Loss.

I’m going to wait until we have finished the oral steroids before I try anything new.  That will give me time to research a little more and order what I need.  Some of the options are easier for us to try than others. Read the referenced article for yourself, listed below isn’t all of the options, just the ones we are considering trying soon.  We will likely only add one new thing at a time.  I’ll keep you updated as to what seems to help.

Probiotics

Jessie is pretty picky about both taste and texture, so getting most of the probiotic foods in her wouldn’t be easy, but taking a good probiotic would be easy for her, just $$ for mom and dad.  I have been giving her some probiotic gummies I picked up at Wal-Mart for a while and they do help with her sometimes upset tummy but I see from researching there are much better ones out there, and they cost more.

Supplements

Zinc:   I read an article a few months ago about new research where they’re learning how the immune system of a person with Down syndrome is different.  It has been known for a while that it is different, but we’re only beginning to understand how it’s different. I googled around a bit about the immune system and kept reading how important Zinc is to our immune system.  The last time Jessie’s zinc was tested, she wasn’t deficient.  Since she was within the normal range,  I asked her pediatrician and he said supplementing her with 50 mg wouldn’t hurt her, so we decided to add that to the vitamin D she was already taking.

Quercetin reduces inflammation and fights free radical damage and is often used to treat auto immune disorders. I’ve seen free radicals mentioned a lot in reading about Down syndrome.

Ginseng reduces inflammation and boosts immune function.

Lavender and Rosemary essential oils applied to the scalp as directed in above referenced article.  I wondered too, since the article says rosemary oil is also used to treat dandruff and dry scalp, if that might eliminate our need for dandruff shampoo and address that issue in a more natural way.

Those are the natural remedies we’re considering trying soon.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent too much time indoors this week, busy with a variety of things including cleaning out our bathroom closet and under the cabinets.  I’m ready for a pool day tomorrow!

Hope y’all are having a great week and enjoying your summer.  Be safe in this crazy heat!

Josette

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