Source: Next Steps in Derm
In this case series, JDD authors evaluate the efficacy and safety of intralesional triamcinolone acetonide injections (ILK) when used with topical minoxidil in the management of traction alopecia in 6 African American women.
Traction alopecia (TA) is a form of hair loss secondary to repetitive and/or prolonged tension to a hair follicle over an extended period of time. This typically results from wearing tight hairstyles, or an acute traumatic event.1,2 As the etiology is mechanical trauma of the hair follicle, it can occur in any ethnic/racial demographic or gender. It has been observed in ballerinas, as well as Sikh Indian males, all of whom wear hairstyles that exert tension on the frontotemporal hairline. However, most cases of TA occur in women of African descent.1,3
The diagnosis of TA can be made clinically, as well as through the histological examination of a scalp biopsy. The earliest signs of TA are perifollicular erythema and pruritus with or without surrounding papules and pustules.4 The fringe sign of TA is a clinical finding characterized by the presence of retained hair along the frontal and/or temporal hairline, and it has been shown to have high sensitivity for detecting early and late disease of TA.5 On dermoscopy, one may observe reduced hair density with an absence of follicular openings in late stages, and in earlier stages an absence of hairs with preserved follicular openings outlined in brown, particularly at the periphery of the patch of affected scalp, corresponding to the pigmented basal cell layer of the follicular infundibulum that can be seen on histology.6,7 The histological findings can also vary depending on the stage of the disease. Early findings on histology include trichomalacia, normal number of terminal hairs, preserved sebaceous glands, and increased number of telogen and catagen hairs.8 Late disease findings include a decreased number of terminal hair follicles which have been replaced by fibrous tracts, vellus hairs, and retained sebaceous glands.8
Recommended treatment for traction alopecia includes the use of minoxidil and intralesional steroid injections. However, evidence-based proof of the efficacy of ILK in the improvement of TA has not been reported in the literature. In this case series, we evaluate the efficacy and safety of intralesional triamcinolone acetonide injections (ILK) when used with topical minoxidil in the management of TA in 6 African American women.
A retrospective chart review was performed in patients carrying a diagnosis of TA, who were seen at an active hair disorder clinic between January 2016 and December 2017. All patients who were treated with ILK, and whose treatment progress were recorded with photographs were included. Those who used minoxidil as an adjunct treatment were also noted. The management of TA was assessed by comparing the changes in hair density along the frontotemporal hairline. All patients had been instructed to avoid tension-related hair care practices.
This study shows that ILK, when used in conjunction with topical minoxidil, is effective in halting TA progression, and in improving frontotemporal hair density in patients with TA. Our patients reported no adverse systemic effects from the injections that are commonly associated with corticosteroids, and only one patient reported itch in the frontotemporal hairline, a symptom which is more likely a side effect of the topical minoxidil or a manifestation of the TA pathology itself.
Of the TA patients seen, 6 met the criteria for our observational study. All 6 were African American females presenting for evaluation of frontotemporal hair loss, with ages ranging from 32 to 61 years. All subjects reported a history of hairstyling that exerted tension to the frontotemporal hairline at some point in their lives, whether it was recent, during childhood, or both. The clinical diagnosis of TA was established through the presence of the fringe sign. Five subjects had 3 to 4 ILK injections done at 6 to 8-week intervals, performed at a concentration of 5 mg/mL, while one subject (Subject #2) received only one treatment with ILK (Table 1) also at a concentration of 5 mg/mL. Injections were done both at the border of the hair loss in the frontotemporal hairline and extending backwards to include the normal density hair. Subjects concurrently used topical minoxidil 5% daily, and one subject (Subject #2) also took oral doxycycline. All subjects reported the cessation of all hair care practices that exert tension to the frontotemporal hairline, including tight ponytails, tight hair braiding/weaving, twisting of locks, use of scarves to tie hair down, and the use of hair gel on the frontotemporal hairline. All subjects demonstrated a visible increase in hair density along the frontotemporal hairline following their third treatment (Figure 1). None of the subjects reported any serious adverse effects from the injections. The subject that received only one ILK treatment and continued dual therapy on minoxidil and doxycycline reported itch initially, which was improved with the use of a topical steroid.