|With Health Insurance: Copays + 10%-50% Coinsurance If Covered||Without Health Insurance: $200-$4,000+|
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system attacks the hair follicles, causing hair loss on the scalp. Hair loss typically occurs in small round patches but, in some patients, can affect the entire scalp. The disease can occur at any age.
Related articles: Cortisone Injection, Blood Tests
- For patients covered by health insurance, out-of-pocket costs for alopecia areata treatment typically consist of doctor visit, lab and prescription drug copays as well as coinsurance of 10%-50% for procedures. Alopecia areata treatment is covered by many health insurance plans, although individual drugs or treatments might not be covered by some plans. For example, Aetna's policy on alopecia areata states that certain drugs are covered when the condition is mild and others are covered when it is more severe. Some drugs, such as Rogaine, are not covered because they are considered experimental for the disease. Aetna only covers ultraviolet light therapy when after other treatments have failed. Many insurers deny coverage for wigs or hairpieces, but policyholders can appeal .
- For patients not covered by health insurance, alopecia areata treatment typically costs nothing for a watch-and-wait approach because many cases resolve without treatment. It can cost less than $200-$1,000 or more for treatment with topical medications or corticosteroid injections. And photochemotherapy, which combines the chemotherapy drug Psoralen with UVA therapy can cost $100 or more per session, with 20 to 40 sessions required, for a total of $2,000-$4,000.
- For example, Walgreens charges about $40 for a package of three two-ounce tubes of minoxidil. HerAlopecia.com sells three months of Rogaine foam for $55, and four months for $70.
- At DrugsDepot.com, a tube of brand-name anthralin costs about $110-$230.
- Cortisone injections cost $25-$100 or more each, for a total of $150 or more. Total costs can reach several hundred dollars and depend on the size of the affected area.
What should be included:|
- In many cases, hair grows back within a year without treatment, according to a fact sheet from MedicineNet.com.
- No medications have been approved by the FDA specifically to treat alopecia areata. However, several medications and other treatments are used to promote hair regrowth in affected areas. These do not prevent hair loss in other parts of the scalp or body.
- Corticosteroids can be injected into areas with hair loss, given orally or applied topically to promote regrowth of hair in affected areas. Other medications commonly used include the hair loss medication minoxidil (brand name Rogaine) and the eczema medication anthralin (brand names Drithocreme, Zithranol and Dritho-scalp).
- Another treatment that may be used when other treatments have failed is photochemotherapy , in which the patient takes a medication then gets treated with ultraviolet light. This treatment also is called Psoralen and Ultraviolet A (PUVA) therapy.
- The National Alopecia Areata Foundation offers a list of treatments for alopecia areata.
- Some patients need counseling to cope with living with alopecia areata, according to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation.
- Scarves, hats, hairpieces or wigs might be used to cover the affected areas. At Headcovers Unlimited, wigs made of human hair cost $200 to $1,500 or more.
- Some patients lose eyebrows and/or eyelashes. False eyelashes, brow shaping kits or brow stencils typically cost less than $50.
Shopping for alopecia areata treatment:
- The National Alopecia Areata Foundation Ascot Fund awards a maximum of $500 toward the purchase of a hairpiece to qualifying alopecia areata patients.
- Alopecia areata is a skin disease that should be treated by a dermatologist. The American Academy of Dermatology has a dermatologist locator , with the option to search for a doctor who specializes in hair disorders.
- Medscape.com compares the effectiveness of various treatments for alopecia areata .
- The National Alopecia Areata Foundation offers a marketplace of products for alopecia areata , with links to companies that sell wigs, hats and turbans, false eyelashes and brows, and skin products.
- The National Alopecia Areata Foundation offers a guide to shopping for a hairpiece or wig .
| Material on this page is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Always consult your physician or pharmacist regarding medications or medical procedures.
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