What is the efficacy of anthralin in the treatment of alopecia areata?

Updated: Aug 06, 2020
  • Author: Chantal Bolduc, MD, FRCPC; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
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The efficacy of anthralin was assessed in 3 studies, which unfortunately were uncontrolled.

Both short-contact and overnight treatments have been used. Anthralin concentrations varied from 0.2-1%.

A 2004 study by Tang et al [32] showed no benefit in using anthralin. Other studies showed a response rate of 20-75%, respectively, for patchy alopecia areata and a 25% response rate for alopecia totalis. The mean time to response was 11 weeks, and the mean time to cosmetic response was 23 weeks. Anthralin was used by Tang et al in balding C3H/HeJ mice, which is one animal model for alopecia areata. Half the body was treated with anthralin 0.2%, while the other side was treated with the vehicle ointment. Regrowth was seen on the treated side in 64% of mice after 10 weeks. Four mice had almost complete regrowth. The untreated side showed either no regrowth or continued hair loss. Cytokine studies performed with an RNase protection assay showed that tumor necrosis factor-alpha and -beta were inhibited in mice that responded to treatment.

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