What is Pediatric Alopecia Areata?


Kailie Luan,1 Joseph M. Lam, MD, FRCPC,2

1Faculty of Medicine, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB.
2Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics and Dermatology, University of British Columbia, BC.


Abstract: Alopecia areata is a chronic immune-mediated disorder that causes nonscarring hair loss. Although most commonly causing discrete hair loss on the scalp, the condition can affect any hair bearing area of the body and cause significant emotional and psychosocial distress. While intralesional glucocorticoids are often used as initial treatment for adults with the condition, therapeutic options for children are more limited with concerns of treatment tolerability and potential side effects. This article aims to provide an overview of alopecia areata with particular focus on managing this chronic condition in children.
Key Words: Alopecia areata, clinical presentation, diagnosis, management, pediatrics.
Alopecia areata is a chronic relapsing disorder characterized by non scarring hair loss that can affect any hair-bearing area of the body
While intralesional glucocorticoids are often used as initial treatment for adults, potent topical corticosteroids are effective as first line therapy in children due to better treatment tolerability
The diagnosis is generally made on clinical grounds with the majority of patients presenting with limited patchy disease affecting the scalp
In cases of inadequate response, topical minoxidil or immunotherapy are additional options, with systemic corticosteroids and immunosuppressive agents reserved for refractory cases, and IL-2 and JAK inhibitors as new emerging therapies for AA
Not all patients with alopecia areata require treatment as up to 50 percent of patients with limited alopecia areata will experience spontaneous regrowth of hair.4
Due to the benign nature of alopecia areata, and spontaneous remission is common, watchful waiting is considered a reasonable option in cases of limited disease.
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