Patients with the Alopecia Areata

May 25, 2013
A study by Kathie P. Huang, M.D., of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, and colleagues examined the prevalence of comorbid (co-existing) conditions among patients with alopecia areata (AA), an autoimmune disease that presents with nonscarring hair loss from some or all hair-bearing areas of the body, typically the scalp. (Online First)

The retrospective cross-sectional study identified 3,568 individuals with AA seen in the Partners Healthcare System in Boston between January 2000 and January 2011. Researchers measured the prevalence of comorbid conditions among those diagnosed with AA.

Common comorbid conditions included autoimmune diagnoses: thyroid disease in 14.6 percent, diabetes mellitus in 11.1 percent, inflammatory bowel disease in 6.3 percent, systemic lupus erythematosus in 4.3 percent, rheumatoid arthritis in 3.9 percent, and psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis in 2.0 percent, allergic hypersensitivity: allergic rhinitis, asthma, and/or eczema in 38.2 percent and contact dermatitis and other eczema in 35.9 percent, and mental health problems: depression or anxiety in 25.5 percent.

Researchers also found high prevalences of hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol levels, 24.5 percent), hypertension (high blood pressure, 21.9 percent), and gastroesophageal reflux disease [GERD] (17.3 percent).

“We found a high prevalence of comorbid conditions among individuals with AA presenting to academic medical centers in Boston. Physicians caring for patients with AA should consider screening for comorbid conditions” the authors conclude.

(JAMA Dermatol. Published May 22, 2013. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2013.3049.