Alopecia: Frequently Asked Questions
What doctor treats alopecia?
Dermatologists typically treat alopecia. To find a doctor in your area, get in touch with the National Alopecia Areata Foundation - they’ll match you with a doctor that can help.
Does Medicare cover alopecia areata?
While Medicare doesn't cover treatment for alopecia areata, it should pay for an initial doctor appointment and consultation. If your general practitioner refers you to a dermatologist, Medicare will likely cover that appointment, too.
It’s difficult to get alopecia areata treatment covered by Medicare for two reasons.
1) there aren’t currently any treatment methods approved by the FDA.
2) treatment of generalized hair loss isn’t typically considered medically necessary.
Is alopecia considered cosmetic?
No, alopecia areata is not considered cosmetic by most major health insurance providers because it’s caused by an autoimmune reaction. However, androgenetic alopecia - permanent hair loss caused by hypersensitivity to dihydrotestosterone - is usually considered cosmetic.
Check with your insurance carrier for details, since the amount of hair loss you’re experiencing could affect coverage amounts and treatment options.
Does Medicare cover hair loss treatment?
Unfortunately, Medicare offers limited coverage for individuals experiencing hair loss. It’s most likely to cover treatment that is necessary to combat an underlying medical cause.
However, if you’re experiencing hair loss due to chemotherapy and are hoping to buy a wig, you might be able to get reimbursed through Medicare Advantage, Part C. This type of optional coverage offers additional benefits through a third-party management company. It’s possible that they’ll pitch in for a “cranial prosthesis” - industry jargon for “wig.” A Medicare representative can better explain your options.
Does insurance cover hair loss treatment?
Some insurance providers do cover hair loss treatment, depending on the cause and extent of your bald patches. Providers are most likely to cover treatment when hair loss is caused by an underlying medical issue.
Don’t forget to consider non-invasive options too, like hats, scarves, and even wigs. Your insurance company might reimburse you for a wig, if your doctor writes a cranial prosthesis prescription.
But coverage really depends on your provider. A representative can help navigate the details of your policy.
Does insurance cover a hair transplant?
No, most insurance providers don’t consider hair transplants to be medically necessary and therefore do not cover hair transplants.
Is a hair transplant permanent?
Yes, hair transplants are permanent; in fact, hair transplants are the only permanent treatment options available for hair loss.
Are hair transplants safe?
Hair transplants are generally safe when performed by an experienced, board-certified surgeon. But like any medical procedure, a perfect outcome isn’t guaranteed. Consider the risks before committing, which include:
- Infection. Redness and oozing might indicate an invasion of germs.
- The grafts may not “take.” The skin plug might die instead of adapting to your scalp. This’ll require more surgery to correct.
- Scarring. Permanent marks caused by tension and stretching could occur.
- Patchy appearance. Areas around your transplant might start balding, lending an unnatural appearance.
Do hair plugs grow?
Yes. Hair plugs - more appropriately known as hair transplants - do grow if your body responds positively. The National Institute of Health estimates that between 10%-80% of transplanted hair resumes growth after surgery.
Does Medicare pay for hair prosthesis?
No, Medicare doesn’t usually pay for hair prosthesis since they are not deemed “medically necessary.” However, if you’ve got Medicare Advantage, Part C you might be able to get reimbursed for one through a third-party medical management company.
Since we offer wiglets and wigs at wholesale prices, a hair prosthesis from Headcovers may not break the bank. Consider browsing through our wig shop to see if you could foot the bill on your own; synthetic styles tend to be the most affordable.
Does insurance pay for wigs?
Most insurance companies won’t pay for wigs directly. But you might be able to get reimbursed for one, if the loss is significant. Ask your doctor to write a “cranial prosthesis” or “medical hair prosthesis” prescription – industry jargon for wig. It’s important to use the right terminology, because insurance companies are more likely to reject a regular “wig” claim.
At Headcovers, we’ve successfully worked with all major insurance providers to reimburse customers for cranial prosthetics. Just ask your doctor to indicate an ICD-9 code on your prescription. We’ll send you a special receipt to submit with the claim.
Sometimes, the insurance company will follow up with us for more information. In that case, we’re happy to offer support.
Does Medicare cover alopecia?
Medicare doesn’t typically cover alopecia unless it’s caused by an underlying disease, because there aren’t any hair loss treatments currently approved by the FDA.
However, your first step towards getting treatment for alopecia is to pinpoint the underlying cause. Medicare will cover a doctor’s appointment to diagnose the issue and will likely cover a dermatologist visit as referred by your general practitioner.
In cases of medical necessity and/or all-over loss, you might be able to get reimbursed for a cranial prosthesis if you have supplemental coverage. Talk to a Medicare representative to learn what your policy provides.
Does Medicare pay for wigs?
Wigs are not covered by basic Medicare plans. However, if you have a Medicare Advantage plan or another type of supplemental insurance, you might be able to get reimbursed if your doctor writes you a prescription for a “cranial prosthesis.”
Reach out to an agent to see if your situation qualifies.
Does Medicare cover hair loss?
Medicare does not usually cover hair loss unless it’s treating an underlying illness. However, it will cover a doctor’s visit that is necessary to diagnose a medical condition. So an initial appointment with your general practitioner might be the best place to start if you’re concerned with hair loss.
Does Medicare cover dermatology?
Medicare will cover a visit to the dermatologist’s office if it’s medically required to treat an underlying condition. However, it doesn’t cover routine cosmetic services at the dermatologist’s office. Start by asking your general practitioner for a referral.
Does United Healthcare cover wigs for alopecia?
United Healthcare sometimes covers wigs for alopecia - but only if wigs are specifically listed as a covered service in your policy. Look for information about “cranial prosthetics,” and reach out to a United Healthcare representative with questions.
How can I see a dermatologist without a referral?
To see a dermatologist without a referral, call a nearby dermatologist’s office and explain your situation. But keep in mind that most insurance plans won’t cover an appointment unless it was recommended by a general practitioner.
If you’re trying to avoid seeing a GP first, try calling your doctor’s office to ask for a referral without a formal appointment. They might be able to refer you over the phone or via email.
What can a dermatologist do for alopecia?
A dermatologist can determine which type of alopecia you’re experiencing and recommend a treatment plan accordingly.
Bald spots occur for different reasons; for example, alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder, while androgenic alopecia occurs due to the body’s sensitivity to testosterone. Knowing exactly what’s causing your bald patches is the first step in combatting the loss.
What do dermatologists recommend for thinning hair?
Here’s what a dermatologist might recommend, depending on the cause of your hair loss:
- Topical minoxidil. More commonly known as Rogaine, this topical cream stimulates hair growth when spread over bald patches.
- Prescription medication. Men might be prescribed finasteride, a pill that stops the body from making the dihydrotestosterone that slows down hair loss.
- Corticosteroids. But both men and women can try steroid shots, or corticosteroids. These targeted injections reduce inflammation in the body, allowing hair to grow more easily.
- Hair transplants. This procedure is essentially a skin swap - the surgeon takes a piece with good hair growth and moves it to a bald patch. The idea is that the transplanted piece will assimilate into the new area.
- Scalp reduction or expansion. Both these procedures are meant to stretch areas with fruitful growth to cover areas with poor hair growth.
Do dermatologists do hair transplants?
Yes, dermatologists perform hair transplants. Plastic surgeons do, too.
What would a dermatologist prescribe for hair loss?
Depending on the cause and extent of your loss, a dermatologist might recommend you start taking Rogaine, which doesn’t require a prescription. However, actual prescriptions for hair loss treatment might include:
- Finasteride. It’s a pill that reduces testosterone in men; namely, dihydrotestosterone, or DHT. Finasteride helps slow hair loss in most and can stimulate regrowth as well.
- Corticosteroid. These are steroids that reduce inflammation in the scalp so that hair can grow more easily.
- Laser treatment. Devices that emit laser light can help stimulate hair follicles. However, keep in mind that the long-term side effects of these devices are unknown.
Can your hair grow back if you have alopecia?
Yes, bald patches caused by alopecia typically regrow after a few months. In fact, it’s very rare for alopecia to cause all-over baldness.
If you’ve been hit with a bout of alopecia, you probably don’t need to resort to a full wig right away. Instead, try a wiglet. These are small hairpieces that target problem areas directly, attachable via pressure clips. At Headcovers, we have an assortment of different sizes, textures, and colors so you can find a hair piece that blends in with your natural 'do.
Do cortisone shots help hair growth?
Yes. Cortisone shots can help with hair growth when the cause of loss is alopecia areata.
Alopecia areata occurs when your immune system attacks cells that produce hair, causing inflammation at the root of the follicle and thereby impeding growth. A cortisone shot can reduce inflammation and mitigate the immune system’s reaction, allowing hair to grow more easily.
Does insurance cover hair loss?
Insurance typically only covers hair loss if treatment is targeting an underlying illness. But policies differ, so reach out to your provider to understand exactly what your options are.
At Headcovers, we’ve had success working with insurance companies to reimburse customers for the cost of a wig. If you’re a cancer patient dealing with hair loss, ask your doctor to write a cranial prosthesis prescription with your ICD-9 code (diagnosis code). We’ll send you a special receipt to submit as part of the claim and can provide support if the insurance company asks for more information.
Does minoxidil work on alopecia areata?
No. Minoxidil, more commonly known Rogaine, doesn’t typically reduce hair loss caused by alopecia areata. Minoxidil works best for women who have androgenetic alopecia, (AKA female pattern baldness, or all-over thinning hair) because it targets DHT, a testosterone that impedes hair growth.
Alopecia areata, on the other hand, is an autoimmune response. So while treatment for alopecia areata targets what’s happening with the immune system, androgenetic areata responds more positively to topically applied minoxidil.
However, some women with alopecia areata have found success using minoxidil in combination with other types of treatment. Consider visiting a dermatologist for a treatment plan that pinpoints exactly what you’re dealing with.
What can a dermatologist prescribe for hair loss?
A dermatologist can prescribe corticosteroids - essentially, steroids - to help reduce inflammation in the scalp so that hair follicles grow more easily. Corticosteroids can either be injected by a dermatologist or topically applied at home. This treatment works best for hair loss caused by alopecia areata.
A dermatologist may also prescribe anthralin cream, which is a topical treatment applied daily at home (and also a common treatment for psoriasis). It creates a mild irritation in the skin to stimulate hair regrowth and is effective in 11%-25% of patients.
However, the most helpful thing a dermatologist can do is diagnose what’s causing your hair loss. Treatment options vary depending on the underlying issue.
What can you do for alopecia?
Unfortunately, there’s not a cure for alopecia - but promising treatment is available. This includes:
- Corticosteroid injections. Target bald spots with steroids. These shots reduce inflammation in the scalp, allowing hair follicles to grow more easily.
- Oral corticosteroids. Short doses of steroids can also be taken orally - though these tend to come with more side effects.
- Topical medication. Minoxidil - more commonly known as Rogaine - works by reducing the body’s sensitivity to dihydrotestosterone, a hormone that slows hair growth.
However, “in more than 90% of alopecia cases, hair grows back and fills the bald spot within one year,” says Harvard’s health department. So we’re partial towards a less invasive approach.
Many customers dealing with alopecia find that a beautiful headcovering can help ease the stress of hair loss. Our favorites include:
- Wiglets. Hair toppers that attach with pressure-sensitive clips to cover bald spots. We have wiglets designed for specific areas of the scalp so you can target problem areas directly.
- Hair pieces. From braided headbands to clip-in extensions, a simple DIY hairpiece can offer stylish relief for sparse locks. Our updos are the perfect solution for special occasions.
- Hats. Protect bare skin from the elements with our stunning and stylish hats. Choose a beanie or newsboy cap for everyday wear, or a turban to elevate your look.
- Scarves. We could argue that bamboo and soft cotton feels even better than hair. Get no-fuss, pre-tied options for ultimate ease or go classic with a lovely silk square.
- Wigs. Full head coverage with human and synthetic hair styles in a complete assortment of colors, lengths, and textures.
Do cortisone shots help hair growth?
Yes. Cortisone can be effective in cases where hair loss is caused by alopecia areata.
Cortisone shots reduce inflammation around bald patches and combat the body’s immune response so that fresh follicles can more easily grow.
More Information on Alopecia
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