Topic Overview

Alopecia areata is hair loss caused when the immune system attacks hair follicles , where hair growth begins. Contact immunotherapy may be the most effective treatment for severe alopecia areata.1 A common medicine used is diphenylcyclopropenone (DPCP).

DPCP, a liquid, is "painted" on the scalp once a week. The concentration of the solution is increased at each treatment session until a mild allergic reaction occurs. Hair growth may appear within 3 months of beginning treatment.

Side effects of contact immunotherapy include a severe rash (contact dermatitis) and swollen lymph nodes, especially in the neck.

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