Document Detail

Alopecia areata. A review of therapy, efficacy, safety, and mechanism.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  1444509     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Although it is clear from the foregoing that some of the drugs and chemicals used to treat severe alopecia areata are efficacious to some degree, it is impossible to draw any meaningful comparisons among the data outlined in Tables 1 and 2. Virtually all of the studies were designed differently. Differences in chronicity and extent of disease as well as history of previous treatment resistance may significantly affect efficacy data even as two investigators compare the same drug. Drug-induced hair regrowth in alopecia areata may be very slow; a cosmetic response may take 1 to 2 years to achieve. Efficacy determinations made at shorter intervals may, therefore, not reflect true therapeutic potential. Efficacy end points vary significantly and need to be standardized. From a practical standpoint, scalp hair coverage that is deemed by the patient to be cosmetically acceptable seems to be a reasonable efficacy end point to report. Maintenance of cosmetic effect with continued treatment and/or following discontinuation of treatment also is useful to document. Table 3 outlines my approach to therapy of alopecia areata. Topical treatments often must be used for as long as 3 months before evidence of regrowth can be seen. In my experience with severe disease, if topical treatments cannot control a flare or induce regrowth, then the patient will often require either lengthy or frequent courses of systemic steroids. In my experience, prednisone doses as low as 20 mg/d may be associated with aseptic neurosis of the hip or severe gastrointestinal bleeding. Severe alopecia areata is a disease for which all therapies are, at best, palliative and, at worst, potentially harmful to patients who are usually otherwise very healthy. The psychosocial significance of this disease is enormous. The insights shared by a long-time sufferer of the disease mirror those expressed by the many patients with whom I have worked during the past 12 years. Three key elements to effectively treat the patient are (1) to help the patient understand the disease; (2) to encourage the patient to share his or her feelings with the physician, family, friends, and other sufferers of the disease; and (3) to help the patient to maintain a sense of hope for future scientific knowledge and treatment of the disease. With a thorough knowledge of the potential benefits and risks of each treatment or combination treatment, the physician with the patient's understanding and cooperation may then embark on what may be in severe cases a lengthy and sometimes unproductive therapeutic process.
V C Fiedler
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Editorial; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't; Review    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Archives of dermatology     Volume:  128     ISSN:  0003-987X     ISO Abbreviation:  Arch Dermatol     Publication Date:  1992 Nov 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  1992-12-04     Completed Date:  1992-12-04     Revised Date:  2008-03-17    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0372433     Medline TA:  Arch Dermatol     Country:  UNITED STATES    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  1519-29     Citation Subset:  AIM; IM    
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MeSH Terms
Alopecia Areata / drug therapy*
Comment In:
Arch Dermatol. 1993 Jul;129(7):908-9   [PMID:  8357436 ]

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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