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October 1979

Treatment of Alopecia Areata by Anthralin-Induced Dermatitis

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Dermatology, University of Munich, West Germany.

Arch Dermatol. 1979;115(10):1254-1255. doi:10.1001/archderm.1979.04010100058026

Raymond said in 1892 that "nothing is easier to cure than alopecia areata; one only has to refer to the recent enthusiastic publications...."1 Several current reports of the successful treatment of alopecia areata with dinitrochlorobenzene2-4 have raised the question as to whether treatment effects are directly related to the allergic reaction or to other phenomena associated with an allergic contact dermatitis. We therefore attempted to induce hair growth in patients with alopecia areata by producing an inflammatory nonallergic dermatitis. Anthralin (dithranol) in 0.2% to 0.8% concentrations is known to induce irritant dermatitis without serious side effects.5 This report concerns 32 patients with alopecia areata who were advised to apply anthralin as often as necessary in order to induce a visible but tolerable dermatitis.

Patients and Methods  Thirty-two patients ranging in age from 12 to 71 years were treated; 27 were men and five were women. Twenty-four patients