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J Formos Med Assoc. 2002 Mar;101(3):223-6.

High-dose steroid pulse therapy for the treatment of severe alopecia areata.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology, College of Medicine, National Cheng Kung University, 138 Sheng-Li Road, Tainan, Taiwan.


Growing evidence shows alopecia areata (AA) to be a T cell-mediated organ-specific autoimmune disease. This study aimed to evaluate the efficacy of high-dose steroid pulse therapy in Taiwanese patients with severe widespread AA exceeding 40% of the scalp. A total of 17 Taiwanese patients with severe AA lasting less than 2 years were treated once monthly at the outpatient clinic for six sessions. Children younger than 12 years of age received oral prednisolone (5 mg/kg) in three divided doses, while for adults, 500 mg methylprednisolone was infused intravenously over 2 hours. Patients with multifocal AA exhibited the most favorable response, with more than 75% hair regrowth (9/11). Relapse occurred in two patients at 4 and 8 months after the last treatment, respectively. One patient with ophiatic AA showed a transient response, but subsequently lost hair even upon continuation of therapy. Two patients of four with alopecia totalis had full hair regrowth but one lost hair again 6 months later. In the only patient with alopecia universalis, less than 10% hair regrowth occurred. No major side effects were observed. In summary, 11 of 17 patients (64.7%) had more than 75% hair regrowth after steroid pulse therapy. Our results indicated that steroid pulse therapy, given at 5-10 mg/kg once monthly for an average of 6 months, is effective and well tolerated in Taiwanese patients with severe multifocal AA lasting less than 2 years.

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