Latisse for Alopecia Areata?

Arnold R. Oppenheim, MD

Article by
Virginia Beach Dermatologist

Alopecia Areata is a non-scarring, often sudden, hair loss with sharply defined areas of alopecia. Most cases cause round or oval patterns of baldness but occasionally large areas of the scalp lose their hair (alopecia totalis) or generalized hair loss including all body hair (alopecia universalis) can occur. It is felt by most authorities to be auto-immune, the body is producing antibodies to the hair follicle.

Sometimes, the eyelashes or eyebrows are affected.

When Latisse was approved, I thought this lash grower might help two of my patients who are so affected. They applied Latisse in the same way my Latisse patients are instructed. However, after three months, neither has had a successful result.

Of course, my "study" is anecdotal. However, a much larger study was recently published in the European Journal of Dermatology ( Dec 2009) by Faghihiet al. The authors conducted a bilateral-paired comparison study to test the efficacy of Latisse for regrowing eyebrows and eyelashes. Instead of the two patients I enlisted, they enrolled 26.

Basically, one eye was treated and the other went untreated. After four months, baseline and end point photographs were compared. Unfortunately, only one patient displayed even a modest success.

Thus, while Latisse is usually successful in growing out lashes, it does not seem to be able to correct the immunologic problem in alopecia areata and thus cannot restore the lashes or brows to those who have lost them.