Role of family history in patchy alopecia areata

Dermatol Online J. 2018 Oct 15;24(10):13030/qt0n19r7ps.


Background: Family history of alopecia areata has been associated with more severe clinical presentations, but its specific prognostic implications in patchy alopecia remains unclear.

Objective: To evaluate the relationship of family history of alopecia areata with demographics, triggers, comorbidities, disease course, and relapse rate in patchy alopecia.

Methods: The medical records of 256 patients seen over a 17-year period was examined. Data collected included demographics, comorbidities, disease severity, and response to treatment. Comparisons were drawn using Pearson chi-square tests, Fisher exact tests, Wilcoxon rank sum tests, and t-tests as appropriate.

Results: Family history of alopecia areata was associated with reduced hair regrowth after relapses, more severe symptoms, and earlier age of onset. Stress/fatigue, illnesses, thyroid disorders, and season changes were the most common relapse triggers. Dermatologic disorders were the most common comorbidities, followed by atopy and autoimmune disease.

Limitations: Given the retrospective nature of data collection, most measures have some missing data, which may impact findings.

Conclusion: Patchy alopecia patients with a family history of alopecia areata experienced worse outcomes. Concomitant autoimmunity may also adversely affect alopecia areata disease course. Identification of a positive family history of alopecia areata and control of autoimmune comorbidities may aid alopecia areata management.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alopecia Areata / epidemiology*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Hair / growth & development
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Medical History Taking*
  • Recurrence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Seasons
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology*
  • Thyroid Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Young Adult