A pilot study published in the journal Dermatologic Therapy suggests that topical calcipotriol, a derivative of active vitamin D, may be an alternative treatment for alopecia areata (AA).
AA is a type of hair loss that results from the immune system mistakenly attacking hair follicles, which is where hair growth begins.
AA typically begins when clumps of hair fall out, leaving bare spots on the scalp or other areas of the body. In rare cases, baldness occurs. It affects approximately 6.8 million people in the U.S.
Research has established that vitamin D improves the immune system. Studies continue to reveal that vitamin D likely plays a role in a variety of autoimmune diseases, including but not limited to Crohn’s disease, type 1 diabetes, systemic lupus erythematosus, multiple sclerosis, autoimmune hemolytic anemia, autism and rheumatoid arthritis. However, very limited research exists regarding the role of vitamin D in AA. One study found that low vitamin D levels related to disease severity among AA patients. Furthermore, one study determined that AA patients had lower vitamin D receptors on hair follicles in comparison to healthy controls.
Recently, researchers aimed to assess the efficacy of topical calcipotriol, a derivative of active vitamin D, for patients with AA. A total of 22 patients with AA were given lotion with a 0.005% calcipotriol formula. The patients used this lotion twice daily for three months.
The researchers wanted to determine how the use of the calcipotriol lotion affected severity of AA, including the quantity of hair loss. To do this, the researchers assessed regrowth of hair at 4, 8 and 12 weeks.
After 12 weeks of treatment, hair regrowth occurred in 59% (13/22) of the patients. On average, it took 4.2 weeks before hair regrowth began to occur in the patients. The researchers also found that those who began the study with low vitamin D levels experienced a bigger improvement in AA severity.
The researchers concluded,
“Topical calcipotriol can be an alternative treatment in AA and it could prove to be more useful in patients who are vitamin D deficient.”
Tovey, A. & Cannell, JJ. New study finds derivative of active vitamin D helps manage hair loss. The Vitamin D Council Blog & Newsletter, February 2, 2017.