Primary cicatricial alopecia: histopathologic findings do not distinguish clinical variants

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2005 Apr;52(4):637-43. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2004.07.069.


Background: Primary cicatricial alopecias encompass a group of disorders characterized by permanent destruction of the hair follicle. The varied clinical features and differences in terminology have led to difficulties in defining consistent clinicopathologic correlation.

Objective: We sought clinicopathologic correlation of 6 clinically distinct primary cicatricial alopecias: lichen planopilaris, frontal fibrosing alopecia, pseudopelade (Brocq), central centrifugal alopecia, folliculitis decalvans, and tufted folliculitis.

Methods: We conducted prospective and blinded histopathologic evaluation of clinically typical primary cicatricial alopecias. Biopsy specimens were taken from early affected scalp lesions and paired with samples from clinically unaffected areas in the same patient.

Results: The lymphocytic and neutrophilic groups were readily distinguished histologically. However, within the two groups clinically distinct primary cicatricial alopecias could not be distinguished with current histopathologic techniques.

Conclusion: A descriptive, standardized histopathologic reporting of follicular architecture, type, location, and extent of the inflammatory infiltrate, and presence or absence of sebaceous glands, may be of greatest value in guiding the treatment of patients with primary cicatricial alopecias.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alopecia / classification
  • Alopecia / pathology*
  • Cicatrix / classification
  • Cicatrix / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies