Association of Alopecia Areata With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Stimulant Medication: A Case-Control Study

Tyson A. Meaux, LSU Health Sciences Center- New Orleans
Pamela M. McMahon, Our Lady of the Lake Children's Hospital
Glenn N. Jones, LSU Health Sciences Center- New Orleans
Amelia E. Bush, LSU Health Sciences Center- New Orleans
Jaren J. Kennedy, LSU Health Sciences Center- New Orleans
George William Poche, LSU Health Sciences Center- New Orleans


Background: Both psychiatric disorders and diverse medications used to treat them have been associated with alopecia. The objective of our study was to investigate the existence of an association between attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) stimulant medication (ASM) and various types of alopecia. Methods: We conducted a retrospective case-control medical record review of patients between the ages of 6 and 18 years seen in dermatology clinics during a 10-year period. Cases included patients diagnosed with alopecia areata (AA), alopecia totalis (AT), or alopecia universalis (AU). We matched 3 controls on age and sex to each case. We reviewed patients’ medical records for the following medications: lisdexamfetamine, amphetamine/dextroamphetamine, dexmethylphenidate, and methylphenidate. We examined the association between medications used to treat ADHD and diagnoses of AA, AT, and/or AU by calculating a series of odds ratios and 95% CIs. Results: We identified 124 cases (110 with AA, 11 with AT, and 3 with AU) and 372 controls. We found a strong association between AU and ASM use (P<0.0071). No relationship between ASM use and other types of hair loss was found. Conclusion: Although the sample size of cases with AU was small, we found a significant association between AU and ASM. While further study is needed, practitioners may consider close monitoring of patients with AA who use ASM for the development of worsening disease and discontinue the medication if the patient experiences an increase in hair loss that appears to be progressing to AU.