Alopecia Areata – Finally FDA-Approved Treatments Available to Patients Izzy Tran, BA and Robin Lewallen, MD FAAD

Alopecia areata (AA) is an autoimmune skin condition that causes sudden loss of hair on the scalp as well as sometimes other areas of the body.  People with AA usually have smooth, round patches of complete hair loss that happens over the period of a few weeks. AA affects approximately 6.8 million people in the United States. It is unclear why patients get this autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks its own hair follicles. Fortunately, this process is non-scarring, and the follicles have the ability to regrow hair in many patients. However, there are patients who experience recurrent episodes of AA, and other times, AA may persist for several years. 

Approximately 1 in 50 people will suffer from AA at some point in their life. It is estimated that severe AA affects more than 300,000 people in the United States each year.  Men and women of all races have equal chances of developing this condition. While this condition can develop at any age, most people develop AA for the first time before the age of 30. 

Traditionally, dermatologists have treated alopecia areata with corticosteroids (either injected, topical, or oral), topical minoxidil (common brand name: Rogaine), anthralin (originally developed for psoriasis), excimer laser therapy, and other immunosuppressive drugs. Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors, typically used for rheumatoid arthritis, such as tofacitinib, have been used off-label for AA for almost a decade. Until recently, there were no Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved treatments available for AA. 

On June 13, 2022, the FDA approved Olumiant (baricitinib) oral tablets to treat adults with severe alopecia areata. Olumiant is a JAK inhibitor that works on the immune system to treat AA. This is the first and only FDA approved treatment option for AA.


Newport Beach Dermatology and Plastic Surgery (NBDPS) has the latest treatment options available for AA including Olumiant and XTRAC excimer laser. We also often still utilize long-standing alopecia areata therapies with dozens of articles supporting their off-label use over the past 30 years. The providers at NBDPS are happy to discuss your hair loss concerns and come up with a plan specific to your condition and needs.

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