Primary cicatricial alopecias: clinicopathology of 112 cases

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2004 Jan;50(1):25-32. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2003.04.001.


Background: Cicatricial alopecias represent a diverse group of diseases characterized by a lack of follicular ostia and irreversible alopecia. There is limited literature on the epidemiology and therapeutics of cicatricial alopecias.

Objective: The aim of this study was to review the epidemiology, clinical characteristics, and treatment of inflammatory cicatricial alopecias in a mixed ethnic population referred to a university hair clinic.

Methods: The study population consisted of 112 patients seen during a 5-year period with acquired primary cicatricial alopecias. This represented 3.2% of the total number of trichologic consultations seen at the University of British Columbia Hair Clinic, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Results: The ratio of lymphocytic to neutrophilic cicatricial alopecias was 4:1. Lymphocytic cicatricial alopecias had a tendency to affect middle-aged women, whereas neutrophilic cicatricial alopecias had a predilection for middle-aged men.

Conclusions: An accurate diagnosis of cicatricial alopecia is achieved through careful clinicopathologic evaluation. We suggest that a scalp biopsy is mandatory in all cases. Multiple biopsies may be necessary for some affected individuals to achieve a definitive diagnosis as a result of a highly variable clinical course. An aggressive multiple modality therapeutic approach is often necessary to prevent further irreversible follicular destruction, implying cicatrical alopecia should be considered a trichologic emergency. Current therapeutic options for lymphocytic cicatricial alopecia include corticosteroids, antimalarials, and isotretinoin versus antibiotics, corticosteroids, and isotretinoin for neutrophilic cicatricial alopecias.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alopecia / classification
  • Alopecia / complications
  • Alopecia / epidemiology
  • Alopecia / pathology*
  • Alopecia / therapy
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cicatrix / classification
  • Cicatrix / complications
  • Cicatrix / epidemiology
  • Cicatrix / pathology*
  • Cicatrix / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged