Because of its immunomodulatory and immunosuppressive actions, sulfasalazine has shown good hair regrowth in the treatment of alopecia areata. The drug is administered orally usually as enteric coated tablets to minimize the gastrointestinal side effects. The treatment is started at a lower dose, usually in the range of 500 mg twice daily and then the dose is gradually increased to 1 g three times a dayAdverse effects include gastrointestinal distress, liver toxicity and haemotological side effects. Sulfasalazine helps in alopecia areata because it causes inhibition of T cell proliferation, and natural killer cell activity and also inhibits antibody production. It also inhibits the secretion of interleukin (IL)-2, IL-1, TNF- and IFN-gamma and even IL-667.
A number of clinical studies have documented a positive effect of sulfasalazine in alopecia areata. In one clinical study, 23% patients showed a really good response with satisfactory hair growth after sulfasalazine therapyOther studies have also shown a beneficial effect of this treatment option in resistant cases of alopecia areata.
British Journal of Medical Practitioners