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Pediatr Dermatol. 2018 Nov;35(6):817-820. doi: 10.1111/pde.13703. Epub 2018 Oct 18.

Treatment of pediatric alopecia areata with anthralin: A retrospective study of 37 patients.

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Department of Dermatology, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio.
School of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio.
Department of Dermatology, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, Ohio.



Data on treatment options in pediatric alopecia areata are limited. Topical anthralin has been demonstrated to be an effective treatment option in adults and has minimal systemic toxicity. Prior results on its efficacy in children with alopecia areata have been mixed.


Medical records of 37 patients with alopecia areata who were started on topical anthralin before age 17 were reviewed for efficacy and safety data. Scalp regrowth was quantified by serial photography if available or by medical record documentation if photographs were unavailable. Mean duration of clinical follow-up was 2.5 years.


Most patients were started on anthralin while continued on prior therapies, including topical corticosteroids, minoxidil, and/or intralesional corticosteroids. Twelve patients (32%) experienced complete scalp regrowth, while 25 patients (68%) experienced at least 50% maximal scalp regrowth with using anthralin. Of the patients with at least 50% scalp regrowth, mean time to first clinically observed response was 3.4 months. Mean time to maximal response was 15 months. Four patients stopped anthralin due to skin irritation. Relapses affected 64% of those with at least 50% maximal scalp regrowth.


Topical anthralin provides children with alopecia areata an additional option that offers potential for significant scalp regrowth with minimal systemic effects. Treatment course may need to be continued for at least 1 year in order to achieve maximal efficacy. The efficacy of anthralin may be limited by high rate of recurrence and local adverse effects.


alopecia; therapy-topical

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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