In one of the more surprising hair loss news stories we have read in a long while, a young girl who, having suffered from alopecia areata since the age of 2, suddenly began to grow hair after treatment for eczema.
Published in the journal JAMA Dermatology, we read details of a remarkable study with possibly profound implications for some hair loss sufferers. A team at the Massachusetts General Hospital were working on a new treatment for eczema called dupilumab. Their patient was an unfortunate 13-year-old girl whose own eczema had proved resistant to treatment. We say unfortunate because not only was she afflicted with that miserable condition but she had suffered from alopecia totalis, that version of alopecia that sees all hair lost from the scalp and face, since the tender age of 2.
Published pictures of the girl’s scalp, taken at 6 weeks after her first dose, show her in her original state, with her eczema clearly visible through the complete absence of any scalp hair. However, pictures taken at 11 months into her treatment show a transformation. She now has fine hair growing all over the scalp, and what can be seen of the scalp itself seems to show a huge improvement of the condition of the skin.
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The senior author of the study, Maryanne Makredes Senna, told JAMA “We were quite surprised since this patient hadn’t grown scalp hair since the age of two, and other treatments that can help with hair loss did not help in her case.” She went on “As far as we know, this is the first report of hair regrowth with dupilumab in a patient with any degree of alopecia areata.”
This remarkable story had one more surprise to come, the link between the sudden growth of hair and the use of dupilumab might still have been dismissed by some as coincidence. Fortunately for hair loss sufferers everywhere this took place in the USA, where issues with the patient’s insurance coverage meant the treatment was withdrawn for two months. During that period without treatment the patient shed the new hair, and then re-grew it when treatment recommenced.
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This made for great reading, yet another avenue of exploration in the hunt for a hair loss cure… something for the sufferers of eczema and alopecia areata to look forward to – though with the usual caveat of a long wait while it passes through the various trial stages. We will follow their progress closely as the author did mention an application to begin those trials had already been lodged. Our thanks go out to the American Medical Association for the use of the image.
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