COVID Vaccines Trigger Alopecia Areata in Some Patients, Yet Reduce the Risk in Others
Nobody every said the immune system is simple! Studies have shown that COVID Vaccines can reduce the risk of developing alopecia areata and studies have shown that COVID vaccines can increase the risk of alopecia areata.
Genco et al 2023
Genco et al report 5 more patients to add to the growing list of patients who have experienced new onset or flares of alopecia areata after COVID vaccines. These 5 patients included 4 females and 1 male. Mean age 32 years. All had a prior history of alopecia areata. 4 of the patients had no evidence of alopecia areata before the vaccine was given and 1 had mild disease. Flares of AA occurred in these 5 patients 1-3 weeks of receiving the vaccine. The vaccine was Pfizer in 2 patients and Moderna in 3 patients. In 4 of the 5 patients, subsequent doses did not further flare the alopecia. However, 1 patient had a booster effect with each dose causing more and more hair loss.
This is a nicely documented report. Not all reports of COVID vaccines induced AA have been in patients with prior histories of AA so it’s interesting that all patients in this report had prior AA. It’s amazing just how fast these AA flares occur. In 3 patients it was just 2 weeks. In 1 patient it was 1 week and in 1 patient it was 3 weeks.
A recent systematic review by Pastukhova et al highlighted the subject in greater detail.
Genco L et al. Alopecia Areata after COVID-19 Vaccines. Skin Appendage Disord. 2023 Mar;9(2):141-143.
Pastukhova E et al. Alopecia Areata as a Sequela of COVID-19 Vaccination: A Systematic Review J Cutan Med Surg . 2023 Jan-Feb;27(1):64-65.
Dr. Jeff Donovan is a Canadian and US board certified dermatologist specializing exclusively in hair loss.
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