Background: Efficacy of topical steroids in alopecia areata is still discussed. Objective: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of clobetasol propionate 0.05% ointment under occlusion in 28 patients with alopecia areata totalis (AT) or AT/alopecia universalis. Methods: A total of 28 patients were instructed to apply 2.5 g of clobetasol propionate to the right side of the scalp every night under occlusion with a plastic film. Treatment was performed 6 days a week for 6 months. When regrowth of terminal hair occurred, treatment was extended over the entire scalp. All patients were followed up for another 6 months. Results: Of the 28 patients included in the study, 8 were treated successfully (28.5%). Regrowth of terminal hair began on the treated side 6 to 14 weeks after the start of treatment. Of these 8 patients, 3 had a relapse and were not able to maintain hair regrowth. Conclusion: Our study shows that clobetasol propionate 0.05% under occlusion is effective in inducing hair regrowth in patients with AT or AT/alopecia universalis. Occurrence of hair regrowth only on the treated half of the scalp clearly shows that efficacy of treatment is a result of a local and not systemic effect of the drug. Although only 17.8% of patients had long-term benefit by treatment, our results were obtained in a population of patients with severe and refractory forms of the disease.
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