New treatment option shows promise for skin and hair conditions

Alopecia areata, atopic dermatitis and vitiligo are highly visible dermatologic conditions that can have a negative effect on patients’ quality of life and overall health. An emerging treatment option, however, could provide effective therapy for patients with these conditions.

Board-certified dermatologist Brett King, MD, MPH, FAAD, an assistant professor of dermatology at the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn., is at the forefront of research into new uses for a class of drugs known as Janus kinase inhibitors, or JAK inhibitors. Recent studies suggest that these medications can disrupt the immune response that fuels alopecia areata, which can cause patchy or total hair loss; atopic dermatitis, which causes severe itch and red rash; and vitiligo, which causes the skin to lose its color.

“While alopecia areata, atopic dermatitis and vitiligo may not seem alike on the surface, they are all fueled by the body’s immune system,” Dr. King says, “and JAK inhibitors seem to address immune system dysfunction in all three diseases. I believe that this class of medicines is going to redefine how dermatologists approach these diseases and provide a revolutionary new therapy for patients.”

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