Psoriasis Treatment Helps Alopecia Universalis

March 14, 2016

A drug called Xeljan, approved to treat psoriatic and rheumatoid arthritis, has shown evidence of also treating alopecia universalis, a rare autoimmune disease characterized by a loss of hair on the scalp and body. The pill also treats plaque psoriasis, a condition that causes scaly red areas of skin. Researchers believed that Xeljanz, which has been used successfully to treat psoriasis and, in mice, reversed alopecia aerata, a less extreme form of alopecia universalis, might help humans. They were right. Studies show after two months of treatment, psoriasis improves and hair growth is seen. After eight months, research proved it’s possible to grow a full head of hair without side effects or lab tests showing abnormalities. The study was based on giving the same amount of Xeljanz approved to treat psoriatic and rheumatoid arthritis.
Psoriatic arthritis can affect joints on just one side or on both sides of your body. The signs and symptoms of psoriatic arthritis often resemble those of rheumatoid arthritis. Both diseases cause joints to become painful, swollen and warm to the touch.

If you have psoriasis, be sure to tell your doctor if you develop joint pain. Psoriatic arthritis can come on suddenly or develop slowly, but in either case, it can severely damage your joints if left untreated.

Psoriasis not only leads to skin and joint disease but can affect other parts of your body. Psoriasis predisposes you to cardiac diseases such as hardening of the arteries, an increased risk of having a heart attack and elevated cholesterol. Research has shown that treatments for psoriasis lower these risks.

The hair growth aspect of the psoriatic arthritis drug Xeljanz will continue to undergo research before anything definitive is released.

Between 2.5 million and 5 million people in the U.S. suffer from alopecia-related conditions, ranging from spotty hair loss to the complete loss of body hair. And while it’s too early to promote this as a therapy for male pattern baldness, researchers believe there are connections between the arthritis drug and treatment of more common causes of baldness.

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