The management of progressive alopecia areata (AA) is often challenging. Recently, i.v. corticosteroid pulse therapy has been reported to be effective for acute and severe AA, however, inclusion criteria have not been sufficiently precise, leaving a chance that its efficacy could be further improved by optimizing therapeutic indications. In our attempts to delineate the factors that correlate with favorable outcomes, we minutely evaluated the clinicopathological findings and the prognoses of single-round steroid pulse-treated progressive AA cases with full sets of image and pathology records during the course. Almost complete hair regrowth has been achieved and maintained up to 2 years in five out of seven AA patients with varying degrees of clinical severity. Interestingly, the worst clinical presentation observed during the course correlated with the size of the area where hairs with dystrophic roots were pulled rather than the extent of visible hair loss on the first visit. Dermoscopy detected disease spread but contributed little in assessing prognoses. Dense perifollicular cell infiltration was detected in all cases treated within 4 weeks of onset and those treated later but with excellent response. Importantly, the cases with poor or incomplete hair regrowth were treated 6-8 weeks of onset and showed moderate inflammatory change with high telogen conversion rate. These findings mandate global dermoscopy and hair pull test for judging the treatment indication and suggest that early administration of high-dose corticosteroid, ideally within 4 weeks of onset, enable efficient suppression of active inflammation and maximize the effectiveness of the remedy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas