Epidemiology of alopecia areata, ophiasis, totalis, and universalis: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology








alopecia areata; alopecia ophiasis; alopecia totalis; alopecia universalis; epidemiology; meta-analysis; prevalence; systematic review


© 2019 American Academy of Dermatology, Inc. Background: Alopecia areata (AA) is a common autoimmune alopecia with heterogeneous severity and distribution. Previous studies found conflicting results about AA epidemiology. Objective: To determine the prevalence, incidence, and predictors of AA, alopecia totalis, alopecia ophiasis, and alopecia universalis. Methods: A systematic review of all published cohort and cross-sectional studies that analyzed AA and its subtypes. MEDLINE, Embase, LILACS, Scopus, Cochrane Library, and GREAT were searched. At least 2 reviewers performed study title/abstract review and data extraction. Random-effects meta-analysis was used because of significant heterogeneity (I2 = 99.97%). Results: Ninety-four studies met the inclusion criteria. The pooled prevalence (95% confidence interval, N) of AA overall was 2.11% (1.82-2.42, N = 302,157,365), with differences of population-based (0.75% [0.49-1.06%], N = 301,173,403) and clinic-based (3.47% [3.01-3.96], N = 983,962) studies. The prevalences of alopecia totalis, ophiasis, and universalis were 0.08% (0.04-0.13, N = 1,088,149), 0.02% (0.00-0.06, N = 1,075,203), and 0.03% (0.01-0.06, N = 1,085,444), respectively. AA prevalence (95% confidence interval) increased over time (<2000: 1.02% [0.85-1.22]; 2000-2009: 1.76% [1.51-2.03]; >2009: 3.22% [2.59-3.92]; P < .0001) and differed by region. AA prevalence was significantly lower in adults (1.47% [1.18-1.80]) than children (1.92% [1.31-2.65]; P < .0001). Conclusions: AA affects 2% of the global population. AA prevalence is lower in adults than children, is increasing over time, and significantly differs by region.

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