DPCP for alopecia areata: Why do we use acetone to make it up?

Dissolving DPCP in Acetone

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Diphencyprone or "DPCP" is a chemical that causes allergic reactions. It is used as an off-label (non FDA approved) treatment for patients with alopecia areata whereby the DPCP is applied directly to the scalp and left on for 24-48 hours. After 48 hours the DPCP is washed off.

DPCP is not soluble in water so it is typically made up in acetone. Acetone is an organic solvent best known as the ingredient in nail polish remover. DPCP may also be soluble in other ingredients such as isopropanol.

What is often forgotten is that DPCP degrades in light and at room temperature. DPCP should be ideally stored at 4 degrees ceclius and protected from light. Usually DPCP is dispensed in brown light proof bottles but I recommend wrapping in aluminum foil to further protect from light.

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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