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.