Expand Document  |  Expand Chapter  |  Full TOC  |  Printable HTML version
WHO Model Prescribing Information: Drugs Used in Skin Diseases
(1997; 132 pages) [French] [Spanish] View the PDF document
Table of Contents
View the documentPreface
View the documentIntroduction
Open this folder and view contentsParasitic infections
Open this folder and view contentsInsect and arachnid bites and stings
Open this folder and view contentsSuperficial fungal infections
Open this folder and view contentsSubcutaneous fungal infections
Open this folder and view contentsBacterial infections
Open this folder and view contentsViral infections
Open this folder and view contentsEczematous diseases
Open this folder and view contentsScaling diseases
Open this folder and view contentsPapulosquamous diseases
View the documentCutaneous reactions to drugs
Open this folder and view contentsPigmentary disorders
Open this folder and view contentsPremalignant lesions and malignant tumours
Open this folder and view contentsPhotodermatoses
Open this folder and view contentsBullous dermatoses
View the documentAlopecia areata
View the documentUrticaria
Open this folder and view contentsConditions common in children
View the documentAcne vulgaris
View the documentPruritus
View the documentTropical ulcers
Open this folder and view contentsAntimicrobial drugs
Open this folder and view contentsAntifugal drugs
Open this folder and view contentsAntiseptic agents
Open this folder and view contentsKeratoplastic and keratolytic agents
Open this folder and view contentsScabicides and pediculicides
Open this folder and view contentsAnti-inflammatory and antipruritic drugs1
Open this folder and view contentsAntiallergics and drugs used in anaphylaxis
Open this folder and view contentsUltraviolet radiation-blocking agents (sunscreens)
Open this folder and view contentsMiscellaneous drugs
Open this folder and view contentsAnnex
View the documentSelected WHO Publications of Related Interest
View the documentBack cover
 

Alopecia areata

Alopecia areata, which is presumed to be immunologically mediated, is a relatively common disease that affects the hair. It is characterized by one or more oval or circular patches of non-scarring hair loss on an otherwise normal scalp. When the disease is active, hairs at the margins of these patches may be removed by light traction. Diffuse thinning of hair sometimes occurs in the early stages and in severe cases the lesions may extend, resulting ultimately in total hair loss. Diffuse fine pitting of the nails has been reported in over half the patients presenting with alopecia areata.

Alopecia areata most often appears in childhood or early adult life but it can occur at any age. In some patients there is a family history. In two-thirds of the cases, partial or complete regrowth of hair occurs within 5 years. After this time spontaneous recovery is unusual. Patchy hair loss is seen in secondary syphilis, but it is usually easily differentiated by history, other physical findings, and a more irregular “moth-eaten” appearance. Tinea capitis may also cause patchy hair loss, particularly in children.

Management

The response to treatment is uncertain and beneficial results are often short-lasting. It has been claimed that early treatment may limit extension of the lesions, while untreated cases become unresponsive. Drug therapy is rarely warranted in children and adolescents, or when the condition is stable. In patients with extensive hair loss, a wig or partial hairpiece provides a more satisfactory solution.

Localized regrowth of hair may be stimulated by application of a topical corticosteroid such as hydrocortisone acetate or of a keratolytic agent such as dithranol or tretinoin. Systemic corticosteroids are rarely (if ever) used, given their dangers and the uncertain response, and the recurrence of hair loss after they are discontinued. PUVA therapy is sometimes effective in unresponsive cases.

 

to previous section
to next section
 
 
The WHO Essential Medicines and Health Products Information Portal was designed and is maintained by Human Info NGO. Last updated: December 1, 2019