Alopecia Areata: an Update on Etiopathogenesis, Diagnosis, and Management

Clin Rev Allergy Immunol. 2021 Dec;61(3):403-423. doi: 10.1007/s12016-021-08883-0. Epub 2021 Aug 17.


Alopecia areata (AA) is a common chronic tissue-specific autoimmune disease, resulting in hair loss, that affects up to 2% of the general population. The exact pathobiology of AA has still remained elusive, while the common theory is the collapse of the immune privilege of the hair follicle caused by immunological mechanism. Multiple genetic and environment factors contribute to the pathogenesis of AA. There are several clinical treatments for AA, varying from one or multiple well-defined patches to more diffuse or total hair loss of the scalp (alopecia totalis) or hair loss of the entire body (alopecia universalis). The available treatments for AA, such as corticosteroids and other immunomodulators, minoxidil, and contact immunotherapy, are of limited efficacy with a high risk of adverse effects and high recurrence rates, especially for patients with severe AA. Recent insights into the pathogenesis of AA have led to the development of new treatment strategies, such as Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors, biologics, and several small molecular agents. In addition, modern therapies for AA, including antihistamines, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection, and other novel therapies have been well explored. In this review, we discussed the recent advances in the pathogenesis, diagnosis, and treatment of AA.

Keywords: Alopecia areata; Diagnosis; Etiopathogenesis; JAK inhibitor; Treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alopecia Areata* / diagnosis
  • Alopecia Areata* / etiology
  • Alopecia Areata* / pathology
  • Alopecia Areata* / therapy
  • Humans