Objectives The objectives were to assess the demographical pattern, clinical presentation and therapeutic response in a cohort of patients with alopecia areata (AA) in Sri Lanka.
Methods Hospital-based observational study of 290 adults aged 18 years or above.
Results Alopecia areata was commoner in men (M:F=1.3:1). Age of onset was between 20-35 years (median 31 years) in 61%. Those with juvenile-onset AA (≤17 years, n=5) showed severe disease with many relapses and resistance to therapy. Late-onset AA (<50 years, n=12) was commoner among females and had mild disease activity. Alopecia areata was the commonest clinical type (93.7%), followed by alopecia universalis (n=10), ophiasis pattern (n=3), alopecia totalis (n=3), and reverse ophiasis pattern (n=1). Mild disease (>10% scalp area) was the commonest (82%). Alopecia was total, universal or extensive (>10% scalp area) in 18%. Sites involved were scalp (71%), beard only (20.5%) and multiple sites (8.7%). Nail changes were associated with severe disease. Associated autoimmune diseases were vitiligo 6 (2%), thyroid disease 5 (1.7%) and rheumatoid arthritis 1 (0.3%). Atopy (21%) was not associated with younger age of onset or severity of disease. Patients with a family history among first degree relatives had earlier onset of disease. Most (61%) were cured after 1-2 intralesional steroid injections. Oral dexamethasone mini pulse with or without topical 5% minoxidil lotion for 12 months or more were used in 28%.
Conclusions In Sri Lanka AA is a disease of the young. Extensive disease, juvenile onset, and associated nail changes were poor prognostic factors.