Pediatric Alopecia Areata

Curr Pediatr Rev. 2021;17(1):45-54. doi: 10.2174/1573396316666200430084825.


Background: Alopecia areata (AA) is a non-scarring hair loss disorder of autoimmune etiology.

Objective: To familiarize physicians with the clinical presentation, diagnosis, evaluation, and management of pediatric alopecia areata.

Methods: The search term "Alopecia areata" was entered into a Pubmed search. A narrow scope was applied to the categories of "epidemiology", "clinical diagnosis", "investigations", "comorbidities", and "treatment". Meta-analyses, randomized controlled trials, clinical trials, observational studies, and reviews were included. Only papers published in the English language were included. A descriptive, narrative synthesis was provided of the retrieved articles.

Results: AA is an autoimmune disease of unknown etiology. It is the third most common dermatologic presentation in children with a lifetime risk of 1-2%. Diagnosing AA can be made on the basis of the history and clinical findings. Patients will often present with patchy, non-scarring hair loss, generally affecting the scalp. History may reveal a personal or family medical history of autoimmune or atopic disease or a recent stressful event. Tricoscopic examination will classically show "exclamation point hairs" and "yellow dots". Nonspecific nail changes may be present. Other clinical variants include alopecia totalis, alopecia universalis, ophiasis, sisaipho, and Canitis subita. There are multiple treatment options for AA, including conservative treatment, and topical, oral, and injectable medications.

Conclusion: AA is an autoimmune disease with a heterogeneous presentation and unpredictable clinical course. Although there is no cure for AA, there are many current treatment options available to help manage this disfiguring disease.

Keywords: Alopecia totalis; JAK-STAT inhibitors; alopecia universalis; areata; autoimmune; tricopscopy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alopecia Areata / diagnosis*
  • Alopecia Areata / immunology
  • Alopecia Areata / psychology
  • Alopecia Areata / therapy*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / psychology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / therapy*
  • Child
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Humans