Photochemotherapy and Alopecia Areata

    Mohamed A. Amer, Ahmed El Garf
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    TLDR Some people with severe hair loss saw hair regrowth after a specific light and drug treatment.
    In a study conducted 40 years ago, 4 out of 10 patients with alopecia areata experienced some hair regrowth after undergoing PUVA therapy, which involves treatment with psoralen (a drug) followed by exposure to ultraviolet A light. The study included 6 men and 4 women aged between 10 and 50 years, with the duration of their condition ranging from 6 months to 10 years. One patient with alopecia totalis showed complete regrowth over the crown after 33 treatments, while others had moderate to poor responses. The treatment was administered twice per week for 9 months, with the initial light dose set at 2 joules/cm² and increased by 1 joule/cm² every four exposures. Despite some positive outcomes, the authors cautioned that PUVA therapy should be reserved for patients resistant to other treatments due to potential long-term side effects. The mechanism of action for PUVA in alopecia areata may be related to its effect on lymphocytes, but a direct irritant role could not be excluded.
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