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Alopecia Areata

[ Vol. 5 , Issue. 2 ]


Kam Lun E. Hon and Alexander K.C. Leung   Pages 98 - 107 ( 10 )


Alopecia aerata (AA) is an autoimmune disease that presents as well defined patches of nonscarring hair loss with no overt epidermal changes. The life-time risk of AA in the general population is approximately 1.7%. As many as 60% of patients with AA have disease onset before 20 years of age. AA most commonly manifests as sudden loss of hair in well demarcated, localized area in the scalp. The hair loss is usually limited to a single patch. The lesion is usually round or oval. “Exclamation point hairs” are frequently seen at the periphery of the lesion. Because of the high rate of spontaneous recovery especially in those with small areas of hair loss or with a recent onset, not all patients require pharmacological treatment. A “watch-and- wait” approach is often recommended. Psychological support may be offered if necessary. For patients who actively desire treatment, topical corticosteroids and/or minoxidil are the treatment of choice. Interleukin (IL)-31 antibodies and 308-nm Excimer laser as novel treatment modalities appear promising in the armamentarium against this distressing disease. The review also outlined recent patents on the treatment of alopecia.


Alopecia areata, psychological stress, corticosteroids, interleukin-31, Laser Therapy, autoimmune disease, Alopecia totalis, seasonal rhinitis, bronchial asthma, atopic dermatitis


Department of Paediatrics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 6/F Prince of Wales Hospital, Shatin, Hong Kong.

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