Clinical significance of dermoscopy in alopecia areata: analysis of 300 cases

Shigeki Inui, Takeshi Nakajima, Koichi Nakagawa, Satoshi Itami
International Journal of Dermatology 2008, 47 (7): 688-93

OBJECTIVE: To determine dermoscopic findings of alopecia areata (AA) from a large-scale study that can be used as clinical indicators of disease.

METHODS: Dermoscopic examination of areas of hair loss on the scalp of 300 Asian patients with AA was performed using a DermLite II pro, which can block light reflection from the skin surface without immersion gels. Using the Spearman rank-order correlation coefficient by rank test, correlations between the incidence of each dermoscopic finding and the severity of disease and disease activity were examined. The sensitivity and specificity of the findings as diagnostic clues for AA were evaluated.

RESULTS: Characteristic dermoscopic findings of AA included black dots, tapering hairs, broken hairs, yellow dots, and clustered short vellus hairs (shorter than 10 mm) in the areas of hair loss. Black dots, yellow dots, and short vellus hairs correlated with the severity of disease, and black dots, tapering hairs, broken hairs, and short vellus hairs correlated with disease activity. For diagnosis, yellow dots and short vellus hairs were the most sensitive markers, and black dots, tapering hairs, and broken hairs were the most specific markers.

CONCLUSION: Dermoscopic characteristics, such as black dots, tapering hairs, broken hairs, yellow dots, and clustered short vellus hairs, are useful clinical indicators for AA.

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