Treatment of alopecia areata: An Australian expert consensus statement

Australas J Dermatol. 2019 May;60(2):163-170. doi: 10.1111/ajd.12941. Epub 2018 Nov 8.


Alopecia areata (AA) severity varies from a single small patch to complete loss of scalp hair, body hair, eyelashes and eyebrows. While 40% of all affected individuals only ever get one patch and will achieve a spontaneous complete durable remission within 6 months, 27% will develop additional patches but still achieve complete durable remission within 12 months and 33% will develop chronic AA. Without systemic treatment, 55% of individuals with chronic AA will have persistent multifocal relapsing and remitting disease, 30% will ultimately develop alopecia totalis and 15% will develop alopecia universalis. The unpredictable course and psychological distress attributable to AA contributes to the illness associated with AA. Numerous topical, intralesional and systemic agents are currently used to treat AA; however, there is a paucity of data evaluating their use, effectiveness and tolerability. Topical therapy, including topical glucocorticosteroids, minoxidil and immunotherapy, can be used in cases of limited disease. There are no universally agreed indications for initiating systemic treatment for AA. Possible indications for systemic treatment include rapid hair loss, extensive disease (≥50% hair loss), chronic disease, severe distress or a combination of these factors. Currently available systemic treatments include glucocorticosteroids, methotrexate, ciclosporin, azathioprine, dapsone, mycophenolate mofetil, tacrolimus and sulfasalazine. The optimal treatment algorithm has not yet been described. The purpose of this consensus statement is to outline a treatment algorithm for AA, including the indications for systemic treatment, appropriate choice of systemic treatment, satisfactory outcome measures and when to discontinue successful or unsuccessful treatment.

Keywords: alopecia totalis; alopecia universalis; azathioprine; ciclosporin; methotrexate.

Publication types

  • Consensus Development Conference

MeSH terms

  • Alopecia Areata / diagnosis
  • Alopecia Areata / therapy*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / complications
  • Disease Progression
  • Down Syndrome / complications
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Immunotherapy
  • Minoxidil / therapeutic use
  • Nail Diseases / complications
  • Prognosis
  • Vasodilator Agents / therapeutic use


  • Glucocorticoids
  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Vasodilator Agents
  • Minoxidil