Onset of alopecia areata after Epstein-Barr virus infectious mononucleosis

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2008 Jul;59(1):137-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2008.02.005. Epub 2008 Mar 7.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Alopecia Areata / epidemiology*
  • Alopecia Areata / virology
  • Causality
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Comorbidity
  • Environmental Monitoring / statistics & numerical data
  • Epidemiological Monitoring
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections / diagnosis
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Infectious Mononucleosis / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Registries
  • Retrospective Studies
  • United States / epidemiology