Placebo-controlled oral pulse prednisolone therapy in alopecia areata

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2005 Feb;52(2):287-90. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2004.10.873.


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.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alopecia Areata / complications
  • Alopecia Areata / drug therapy*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / complications
  • Autoimmune Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / complications
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / administration & dosage
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / adverse effects
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Nail Diseases / etiology
  • Prednisolone / administration & dosage
  • Prednisolone / adverse effects
  • Prednisolone / therapeutic use*
  • Recurrence
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Prednisolone