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Leave-On Facial Products Linked to Frontal Fibrosing Alopecia

Women with FFA have greater sunscreen use than control women

woman washing face

THURSDAY, March 17, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Leave-on facial skin care products seem to be associated with frontal fibrosing alopecia (FFA), according to a study published online March 14 in the British Journal of Dermatology.

Nadia Aldoori, M.B.Ch.B., from the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield, U.K., and colleagues administered a questionnaire to 105 women with FFA and 100 age- and sex-matched control subjects about exposure to a range of lifestyle, social, and medical factors. Patch testing with an extended British standard series of allergens was conducted on a subcohort of women with FFA.

The researchers found that compared with controls, the FFA group had greater sunscreen use. There was also a trend toward more frequent use of facial moisturizers and foundations for the FFA group, but the difference in frequencies failed to achieve statistical significance compared with controls. The FFA group had significantly lower frequency of hair shampooing, oral contraceptive use, hair coloring, and facial hair removal compared with controls. FFA subjects more often had thyroid disease compared with controls; women with FFA had a high frequency of positive patch tests, mainly to fragrances.

"The incidence of FFA is increasing and it is not clear why. A reaction to something in our environment is a possible explanation, but this paper by no means proves an association with sunscreen or cosmetics, which as the authors indicate is speculative at this point," Nina Goad, of the British Association of Dermatologists, said in a statement. "A number of patients have a family history of this condition, which suggests a genetic basis, and studies are underway to identify genetic markers. It is very possible that there is no single cause of the disease and in fact it is multi-factorial, with a number of contributing influences, including genetics, autoimmunity, and possible external factors. Further research in this area, including extended patch testing, will help to improve our understanding of the complex nature of the disorder."

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