ALOPECIA areata is thought to be an autoimmune condition, resulting in sudden patchy hair loss that can sometimes be permanent.
But a new drug has been shown to restore up to 80 per cent of sufferer's lost locks in just a few months.
Alopecia areata first makes itself know through patches of coin-sized hair loss – usually round or oval – on the scalp, as well as other parts of the body including he beard, eyebrows, eyelashes or body hair.
According to Alopecia UK, it's caused by immune system cells attacking hair follicles and stopping them from producing more hair.
This patchy hair loss can develop into alopecia totalis – hair loss across the entire scalp – or alopecia universalis, which sees sufferers lose all their body hair.
Though there are a variety of treatments to address the condition, none are guaranteed to work, according to Alopecia UK.
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In most, it will just affect isolated areas and lost hair can regrow.
But chances of regrowth are slimmer if people lose all the locks on their head and body.
But a new drug called ritlecitinib has shown such promising results – according to a study published in The Lancet – that it's already been approved for use in the US.
People aged 12 and over across 18 countries were either given ritlecitinib or a placebo once-daily for 24 weeks.
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Up to a quarter (23 per cent) of the people with alopecia who participated in stage two and three clinical trials and took the pill for six months saw up to 80 per cent of their lost hair grow back.
And the drug was found to be well tolerated.
Patients who had had the disease for longer tended to show poorer outcomes, which suggests ritlecitinib is most effective in the early stages of an alopecia flare-up, which can last months or up to a year at a time.
It's now set to be sold in the US by Pfizer under the name LITFULO in the coming weeks, after being approved by the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The Sun has asked the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) about whether it might be approved for UK use.
Nicole Friedland, President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Alopecia Areata Foundation (NAAF) said: “People living with alopecia areata are often misunderstood, and their experience is frequently trivialised as ‘just hair.’
"However, it is a serious autoimmune disease that can have considerable negative impact beyond the physical symptom."
LITFULO is the only treatment of its kind available for children in the US.
Nicole added: “We believe the approval of LITFULO is a significant advancement for the treatment of alopecia areata, particularly for teens. It’s exciting to see more FDA-approved treatments becoming available for this community.”
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