Alopecia Areata Treatment with Anthralin

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By Steven Kern, MD

Park City, Utah 84098

Physician (MD, DO), Dermatology


What is anthralin?

Anthralin is a drug that will cause skin irritation. In some cases, this will induce hair growth. A mild degree of irritation is desired in order for it to have a beneficial effect on hair re-growth for the treatment of alopecia areata.

How to use it

Apply anthralin cream once per day to the areas of hair loss. Rub in well. Wipe off excess. Wash with soap and water after 15-30 minutes.

If severe irritation or burning does not occur, the strength may be increased weekly. Start at . 25%, then increase to . 5% and finally 1%.

Should intolerable irritation or burning occur, stop using the anthralin until this is better. Then re-start at the next lower strength for several days before increasing the concentration again. If the irritation is again intolerable, stop again until it is better. Then re-start at the next lower strength and stay at this concentration permanently.

Hair re-growth should start to occur within two to four months. However, significant re-growth occurs in only a minority of patients. Skin staining will occur. Do not attempt to scrub this away.    It will clear in 1-2 weeks.


Plastic gloves will prevent hand staining. If gloves are not used, wash hands after use. DON’T RUB EYES!Should accidental eye contact occur, irrigate immediately and continuously with water while keeping eyes open. Anthralin will stain clothing so wash it off before putting on clothes (or wear old clothes).

Bathtub and clothing stain removal

Shower or bathtub: Rinse with hot water immediately after use. Use a suitable cleanser such as Comet to remove any deposit that does not come off with hot water.

White fabric: Soak for ten minutes in full-strength chlorine bleach such as Clorox, followed by a water rinse and air drying.

Colored fabric: Dilute chlorine bleach 1:10. Test for color fastness.