A new clinical trial will attempt to gauge whether cryotherapy can treat hair loss
caused by the autoimmune disorder Alopecia Areata
Cryotherapy is essentially the use of extremely cold temperatures - either localised or generalised - in medical procedures. Rapidly chilling the affected area is thought to reduce inflammation and pain.
The new research has been sponsored by Assiut University in Egypt, who it is assumed are also carrying out the trial, though this is not specified within the registration information. They will be comparing the efficacy of cryotherapy against that of steroid injections in the treatment of autoimmune hair loss
Cryotherapy for Alopecia Areata
The new Egyptian trial registration
, gives the study's official title as: 'Cryotherapy Versus Intralesional Corticosteroid Injection In Treatment Of Alopecia Areata: Trichoscopic Evaluation'.
While the trial is not yet recruiting, it is expected to be looking for a total of 40 participants. In order to take part, volunteers - both male and female - must be 12 years old or over, with recently diagnosed Alopecia Areata; they must not exhibit any unusual sensitivity to cold temperatures, nor have an active scalp infection.
Which particular Alopecia Areata phenotype
they will be testing is unspecified. However, the fact that children from 12 years of age are able to participate is encouraging, given the only form of the condition for which Alopecia Areata treatment
is effective is only open to people aged 16 and over, is encouraging.
The randomised study will see 20 patients treated with cryotherapy via a local liquid nitrogen spray. This will involve two treatment cycles, each lasting 3-5 seconds, with one session every two weeks, for three months. The other half of the volunteer group will receive intralesional injections of 4mg/ml/session of triamcinolone-acetonide, injected into various locations on the scalp using insulin syringes with a 0.5-inch long 30-gauge needle, once every three weeks, for three months.
After the first three months, hair growth assessments will be made for each participant and measured against the severity of alopecia tool (SALT) and dermoscopic evaluation.
The two-arm study is estimated to begin in November 2018, with final completion expected around September 2019.
Researchers from the Yonsei University Wonju College of Medicine in South Korea previously investigated the efficacy of superficial cryotherapy
for Alopecia Areata. They found that 61 per cent of patients responded positively, to some degree, after three months of treatment.
The most likely reason for cryotherapy being explored as a potential treatment for Alopecia Areata is due to the inflammation connection with this autoimmune disease. Though little is known about the precise biomechanics involved in autoimmune alopecia disorders, one of the common hospital-based treatments - corticosteroid injections
- involves the use of powerful anti-inflammatory drugs to suppress the body's immune response. Should cryotherapy prove at least as effective, if not more so, in regrowing hair for alopecia patients, it may be a more convenient and less painful options, especially where children are concerned.