Dithranol Cream as an Alopecia Areata Treatment
Creams or lotions containing dithranol are generally used to treat skin conditions such as psoriasis and, although they can also be used to treat alopecia, this type of use is not widespread. Dithranol cream acts in a similar way to topical immunotherapy, causing a skin reaction which may lead to hair regrowth for some patients.
The dithranol cream or lotion is applied regularly to the scalp before being washed off. The dosage of dithranol should be increased with each application in order to build up the skin’s tolerance.
Dithranol must not be used on the face and it is generally suggested that any skin surrounding the area being treated should first be protected with Vaseline or another soft, white paraffin substance. Afterwards, the scalp should be covered with a tube gauze to protect the parts where dithranol cream has been applied.
There is no evidence to suggest dithranol cream is an effective long-term alopecia areata treatment option. It can also cause side effects including itchiness, localised burning, scaling of the skin and staining of the scalp and hair, as well as any fabrics it may come into contact with.