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Diagnostic delay, comorbid hidradenitis suppurativa and the prognostic value of bacterial culture in folliculitis decalvans: A cohort study.

BACKGROUND: Folliculitis decalvans (FD) is a type of primary neutrophilic cicatricial alopecia often leading to irreversible hair loss. Data on its epidemiology, clinical features, outcomes, and prognostic factors are limited.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate a cohort of patients with FD and identify characteristics of severe disease and prognostic factors which impede remission.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: This retrospective cohort study included 192 patients diagnosed with FD and followed for at least six months at a tertiary center between 2010 and 2020.

RESULTS: There was a diagnostic delay averaging 22.2 (± 29.7) months. Comorbid follicular occlusion disorders were common. Bacterial cultures were positive in 45.6% of the cases, with Staphylococcus (S.) aureus being the most common pathogen. Severe disease was associated with comorbid hidradenitis suppurativa and a positive bacterial culture, particularly S. aureus. 50.7% of patients experienced complete remission: 32% within the first six months of treatment and 18.7% later during follow-up. Relapses were frequent. Negative prognostic factors for achieving remission included younger age and a positive bacterial culture.

CONCLUSIONS: There is a need for the education of dermatologists to reduce the diagnostic delay. Screening FD patients for comorbid hidradenitis suppurativa and obtaining bacterial cultures is important for treatment planning.

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