Background: The pathogenesis of alopecia areata (AA) is incompletely known. A positive family history in some points to a genetic predisposition, and discordance of the disease in identical twins suggests environmental triggers exist.
Objective: We sought to determine whether the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is a possible environmental trigger for AA.
Methods: We queried the National AA Registry for all patients who self-reported sudden onset of AA with concurrent EBV mononucleosis.
Results: Among the 6256 individuals registered between December 2001 and August 2007, 1586 patients reported an environmental trigger-including 12 individuals who had an EBV infection within 6 months before the onset of AA.
Limitations: This study relies on self-reported data, and not all medical records confirming EBV infections were available for review.
Conclusion: The association between EBV and AA is worthy of further investigation.