Alopecia Areata and Thyroid Disease: Lessons from 150 Saudi Patients

Lessons from 150 Saudi Patients

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It is well known that individuals with alopecia areata have an increased risk of other autoimmune diseases, including atopic dermatitis and thyroid disease.

A 2016 study from Saudi Arabia set out to determine whether there is a difference in thyroid autoimmune susceptibility between individuals with mild alopecia areata and more severe alopecia areata.

To do so, a prospective case-control study was lee formed which included 50 alopecia totalis (AT) and alopecia universalis (AU) patients, 50 age- and gender-matched patients with localized AA, and 50 age- and gender- matched healthy subjects.

Patients with advanced forms of alopecia were more likely to have thyroid disease. Thyroid autoantibodies (TAAs) were positive in AT/AU (40%), mild AA (14%), and healthy subjects (4%). The frequency of TAAs was significantly higher in patients with AT/AU than in mild AA (p=0.001) and healthy controls (p less than 0.001). The frequency of thyroid peroxidase antibody (TPO-Abs) was significantly higher in patients with AT/AU than in mild AA and healthy controls (p<0.001 for both). The frequency of TG-Abs was significantly higher in patients with AT/AU (p=0.003) and mild AA (p=0.043) than in healthy controls. Serum TSH level was significantly higher in AT/AU patients than in mild AA patients (p=0.006) and healthy controls (p=0.005). The overall conclusion was that individuals alopecia areata had a higher risk of autoimmune thyroid disease than the general population and individuals with the most severe disease were at highest risk.


Bin Saif GA. Severe subtype of alopecia areata is highly associated with thyroid autoimmunity. Saudi Med J. 2016.

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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