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The therapeutic effect and the changed serum zinc level after zinc supplementation in alopecia areata patients who had a low serum zinc level.

BACKGROUND: It has been reported that some alopecia areata patients have zinc deficiency. There have also been several reports published concerning oral zinc sulfate therapy, with encouraging results, in some alopecia areata patients.

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the therapeutic effects of oral zinc supplementation for twelve weeks in alopecia areata patients who had a low serum zinc level.

METHODS: Oral zinc gluconate (50 mg/T/day) supplementation was given to alopecia areata patients without any other treatment for twelve weeks. The serum zinc level was measured before and after zinc supplementation. A four-point scale of hair regrowth was used to evaluate the therapeutic effect of oral zinc supplementation in these patients.

RESULTS: Fifteen alopecia areata patients were enrolled in this study. After the therapy, the serum zinc levels increased significantly from 56.9 microg/ to 84.5 microg/dl. Positive therapeutic effects were observed for 9 out of 15 patients (66.7%) although this was not statistically significant. The serum zinc levels of the positive response group increased more than those of the negative response group (p=0.003).

CONCLUSION: Zinc supplementation needs to be given to the alopecia areata patients who have a low serum zinc level. We suggest that zinc supplementation could become an adjuvant therapy for the alopecia areata patients with a low serum zinc level and for whom the traditional therapeutic methods have been unsuccessful.

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