Alopecia Areata: Current Treatments and New Directions

Am J Clin Dermatol. 2023 Nov;24(6):895-912. doi: 10.1007/s40257-023-00808-1. Epub 2023 Aug 22.


Alopecia areata is an autoimmune hair loss disease that is non-scarring and is characterized by chronic inflammation at the hair follicle level. Clinically, patients' presentation varies from patchy, circumscribed scalp involvement to total body and scalp hair loss. Current management is guided by the degree of scalp and body involvement, with topical and intralesional steroid injections as primarily first-line for mild cases and broad immunosuppressants as the mainstay for more severe cases. Until recently, the limited number of blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials for this disease had made establishing an evidence-based treatment paradigm challenging. However, growing insights into the pathogenesis of alopecia areata through blood and tissue analysis of human lesions have identified several promising targets for therapy. T-helper (Th) 1/interferon skewing has traditionally been described as the driver of disease; however, recent investigations suggest activation of additional immune mediators, including the Th2 pathway, interleukin (IL)-9, IL-23, and IL-32, as contributors to alopecia areata pathogenesis. The landscape of alopecia areata treatment has the potential to be transformed, as several novel targeted drugs are currently undergoing clinical trials. Given the recent US FDA approval of baricitinib and ritlecitinib, Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors are a promising drug class for treating severe alopecia areata cases. This article will review the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of current treatments for alopecia areata, and will provide an overview of the emerging therapies that are leading the revolution in the management of this challenging disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alopecia / pathology
  • Alopecia Areata*
  • Hair Follicle / pathology
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Janus Kinase Inhibitors* / therapeutic use
  • Scalp / pathology


  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Janus Kinase Inhibitors

Supplementary concepts

  • Diffuse alopecia