Background: Systemic corticosteroids administered as pulse therapy have been found helpful in a wide array of diseases including alopecia areata (AA). None of the studies published so far regarding their use in AA have been randomized or placebo-controlled.
Objective: We sought to compare the efficacy of weekly oral prednisolone pulse therapy in a placebo-controlled trial for patients with extensive AA.
Methods: A total of 43 patients were randomly divided into two groups. Patients in group A (23 patients) were treated with oral prednisolone (200 mg once weekly, 5 40-mg tablets) and patients in group B (20 patients) were given placebo tablets on an identical schedule. The total study period was 6 months, consisting of 3 months of active therapy followed by another 3 months of observation.
Results: Significant hair regrowth was obtained in 8 patients in the prednisolone-treated group. Two of the responders experienced a relapse during the observation period of 3 months. In the placebo group, none of the patients had significant hair regrowth at the end of the study.
Conclusion: Oral prednisolone pulse therapy is useful in AA. Placebo-controlled studies with varying dosage schedules are required to standardize the dose of prednisolone used in pulse therapy, optimize the therapeutic efficacy, and minimize side effects.