Contact Immunotherapy for Hair Loss

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Topic Overview

Alopecia areata is hair loss caused when the immune system attacks hair follicles, where hair growth begins. Contact immunotherapy may be the most effective treatment for severe alopecia areata.footnote 1 A common medicine used is diphenylcyclopropenone (DPCP).

DPCP, a liquid, is "painted" on the scalp once a week. The concentration of the solution is increased at each treatment session until a mild allergic reaction occurs. Hair growth may appear within 3 months of beginning treatment.

Side effects of contact immunotherapy include a severe rash (contact dermatitis) and swollen lymph nodes, especially in the neck.

Related Information



  1. Hague J, Berth-Jones J (2010). Alopecia areata. In MG Lebwohl et al., eds., Treatment of Skin Disease: Comprehensive Therapeutic Strategies, 3rd ed., pp. 31–35. Edinburgh: Saunders Elsevier.


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine

Current as ofFebruary 20, 2015