BACKGROUND: To date, highly variable results for use of topical Squaric acid dibutylester (SADBE) in the treatment of alopecia areata have been reported. Furthermore, there are no reports on SADBE in Korean dermatologic literature yet. OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the efficacy and the tolerability of SADBE in the treatment of severe alopecia areata. METHOD: A total of 22 cases of severe alopecia areata were enrolled in this study. After sensitization of the patients with 2% SADBE in acetone, the subsequent on-going treatments were done with 0.00001% to 2% SADBE with an interval of 1 to 2 weeks. The sensitization rate, the therapeutic efficacy and side effects of SADBE during the treatment course were evaluated. The efficacy was evaluated by 5 rating scales and we continued to check the recurrence of the lesions in the patients who had shown complete regrowth. RESULTS: The mean sensitization rate was 1.55. The treatment frequency at the time of initial hair regrowth ranged from 5 to 21 (mean-10.2). In the 22 patients who were treated for 6 months, more than 90% regrowth in 10 patients (45.5%) was observed, good or fair results (50-89% regrowth) in 3 patients (13.6%), and less than 49% regrowth in 9 patients (40.9%). In this study, only the duration of disease and being recurrent or not, among many prognostic factors, were statistically significant (p<0.05, chi2 -test). In half of the patients, various side effects were observed. Most common side was severe eczema at the sensitization site. Side effects during the treatment course were as follows; severe contact dermatitis, remote dermatitis, generalized pruritus, lymphadenopathy, and dermographism. But the result of side effects was not enough to give up treatment. Of the 10 patients who showed more than 90% regrowth, 4 patients had a recurrence of the lesion in their follow-up period (mean-4.75 months). CONCLUSION: The SADBE immunotherapy is effective and well-tolerated in Korean patients with severe alopecia areata.
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