Alopecia areata and Sclerotherapy: Coincidence or Connection?

Alopecia Areata And Sclerotherapy for Venous Veins

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss on all part of the body. A large proportion of the disease is felt to be due to genes the patient inherits at birth. However, a minor proporiton of the disease is due to various environmental ‘triggers.’ Dozens upon dozens of triggers exists ranging from stress, infections, medications.

In 2017, Whiteley and colleagues published a report suggesting that perhaps sodium tetradecyl sulphate foam sclerotherapy might be added to the long list of potential triggers.

The authors described a 40-year-old woman with a history of alopecia areata who underwent treatment for bilateral primary symptomatic varicose veins. Her first procedure entailed pelvic vein embolisation of three pelvic veins using 14 coils and including foam sclerotherapy of the smaller vein tributaries (using 3% sodium tetradecyl sulphate). Following this procedure, she had an exacerbation of her alopecia areata. . Seven months later, she underwent foam sclerotherapy of leg and labial varicose veins again using sodium tetradecyl sulphate. Two days following this procedure, she had a severe exacerbation of alopecia areata with gross shedding of hair.

The authors raised the possibility that two episodes of exacerbation of alopecia areata appear to be associated with sodium tetradecyl sulphate foam sclerotherapy of veins. This is an interesting article and clearly demands larger studies. A large retrospective review among vein clinics world-wide could easy answer the question as to the real magnitude of risk.



Whiteley et al. Exacerbation of alopecia areata: A possible complication of sodium tetradecyl sulphate foam sclerotherapy treatment for varicose veins SAGE Open Medical Case Reports Volume 5: 1–4

Dr. Jeff Donovan is a Canadian and US board certified dermatologist specializing exclusively in hair loss. To schedule a consultation, please call the Whistler office at 604.283.1887

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