Alopecia areata: An evidence-based treatment update

Maria Hordinsky, Aline Donati

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


Background: There is no cure for alopecia areata, nor is there any universally proven therapy that induces and sustains remission. Treatment choices are frequently based on disease duration, extent, and activity as well as the age of the patient. Objective: Our objective was to review all randomized controlled studies on the treatment of alopecia areata. Methods: We performed a search in the biomedical literature database PubMed, and used the terms 'alopecia areata treatment' and article type 'randomized controlled trials'. Results: Following this algorithm, we reviewed, analyzed, and reported on 29 trials that examined the efficacy of anthralin, antidepressants, biologics, calcineurin inhibitors, corticosteroids (topical and systemic), minoxidil, prostaglandin analogs, sensitizers, and a miscellaneous group of topical and oral drugs with less scientific evidence (aromatherapy, photodynamic therapy, azelaic acid, garlic gel, bexarotene, triiodothyronine, inosiplex, and total glucosides of paeony). Conclusion: Using the American College of Physicians Guideline grading system, our assessment is that the majority of published randomized controlled studies of alopecia areata are only of moderate quality. A number of treatments were found to be effective, for example, topical and oral corticosteroids and the sensitizing agents diphenylcyclopropenone and dinitrochlorobenzene; however, most studies had major limitations that hinder the interpretation of these results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)231-246
Number of pages16
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Dermatology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2014


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