Hair & nails

Beard alopecia responds to JAK inhibitor

Thursday, 14 Nov 2019


Tofacitinib appears to be as effective in assisting hair regrowth of the beard as it is in scalp alopecia areata (SAA), Australian clinic experience suggests.

A retrospective review, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, comprised 45 adult males with SAA treated with the JAK inhibitor for at least three months at an Australian hair clinic between 2016 and 2019.

The study noted 19 of the men had total beard loss, 24 had multiple discrete patches of alopecia and two had a solitary patch of alopecia.

Ten of the men achieved complete beard regrowth after 5.0–28.0 months of treatment, with most of those men (60%) also achieving complete scalp hair regrowth.

“Of the 19 patients with partial beard regrowth, 15 achieved partial and one achieved complete scalp hair regrowth. Of 16 patients with no beard regrowth, 14 had no regrowth and two had partial regrowth of scalp hair,” the study said.

The age of the patient, patchy or total beard loss, and duration of treatment did not influence the degree of beard response.

No serious adverse events were noted.

The authors, led by Dr Karolina Kerkemeyer from Sinclair Dermatology, said that beard alopecia areata (BAA) was associated with a high prevalence of anxiety and depressive symptoms.

“Some religions e.g. Islam, Orthodox Judaism, and Sihkism require adult males to grow a full beard,” they wrote in the journal article.

“One of our patients regularly competes in beard championships, and the loss of >50% of his beard as a result of BAA caused significant distress.”

“Our results demonstrate a strong correlation between the extent of beard and scalp hair regrowth, suggesting that these hair-bearing sites may respond similarly to oral tofacitinib.”

“We suggest that prospective clinical trials evaluating oral JAK inhibitors in AA should seek to include beard assessment in their protocols to determine their effectiveness for the treatment of BAA.”

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