Efficacy and safety of tofacitinib for treatment of alopecia areata in children: A systematic review and meta-analysis

J Cosmet Dermatol. 2022 Dec;21(12):6644-6652. doi: 10.1111/jocd.15425. Epub 2022 Oct 24.


Background: Tofacitinib, a potent JAK inhibitor, has gained increasing interest, in recent years, among dermatologists for the management of refractory alopecia areata. Despite a growing number of studies on its safety and efficacy, there is still a lack of clarity, especially in the pediatric population, in treatment considerations such as proper dosage, treatment duration, side-effect profile, and therapeutic strategies to guide clinicians.

Methods: Multiple databases were systematically searched. Following the PRISMA diagram, of a pool of 601 papers, seven met a checklist of inclusion criteria. These were observational studies including a total of 59 patients from four to 19 years of age.

Results: In the evaluated studies, tofacitinib was administered either orally at a 2.5 to 15 mg daily (mostly 5 mg twice a day) dosage for 2 to 38 months or in the form of a 2% topical solution for 3-17 months. Metanalysis showed that 49% (95% CI: 29%-69%, I2 = 59.94%) of patients experienced a reversal of alopecia after a minimum of 3 to 9 months of therapy. Fifty-five percent (95% CI: 23%-86%, I2 = 75.07%) and 41% (95% CI: 23%-59%, I2 = 0.00%) showed Good/complete and partial response rates, respectively. Oral administration was significantly more efficacious than topical application (73% vs 23%, p-Value = 0.04). Few side effects such as diarrhea and mild liver transaminases abnormalities were noted in several patients.

Conclusion: Results of this review suggest that tofacitinib at 2.5-15 mg daily (especially 5 mg twice daily) oral formulation or 2% topical solution can be regarded as a viable alternative or adjunct to the conventional treatment options for moderate to severe forms of alopecia areata in children owing to its acceptable efficacy and side-effect profile. However, uncertainties continue to exist around treatment strategies including initial and maintenance dosages, route of administration, dose adjustments, the timing of tapering or discontinuation, and associated treatment modalities.

Keywords: JAK inhibitors; alopecia areata; children; pediatric; tofacitinib.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alopecia Areata* / drug therapy
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Piperidines / adverse effects
  • Pyrroles / adverse effects


  • tofacitinib
  • Pyrroles
  • Piperidines

Supplementary concepts

  • Diffuse alopecia