Alopecia UK funds invested: £10,000 

When:  October 2019

Project type:  Clinical Research

Project Lead:  Dr Amr Salam

Length of project: 12 months

Research Institute:  St John’s Institute of Dermatology, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust

Condition of interest:  Alopecia Areata, Coeliac Disease

Funds being used for:  Administrative support and a statistician (Staffing costs)

Research question:

Does an association exist between coeliac disease (CD) and alopecia areata (AA), and if so, is there sufficient evidence to suggest that a gluten-free diet in such patients may stimulate hair regrowth in some patients? Furthermore, do such patients experience micronutrient deficiency due to malabsorption secondary to CD?

Justification for research project:

An association between alopecia areata (AA) and coeliac disease (CD) was first reported in 1995, and since then, although genetic similarities have been identified, a clinical association between these conditions remains undetermined. Furthermore, there is a lack of data studying the impact of CD on micronutrient malabsorption and subsequent effects on the hair cycle.


This retrospective study will look at the medical notes of all paediatric patients diagnosed with alopecia areata, totalis or universalis presenting to our tertiary hair clinic over the last 20 years. In order to to determine the prevalence of associated AA and CD in our population, we will determine whether a diagnosis of CD was confirmed on endoscopy, a gluten free diet was established, the impact of gluten free diet on hair regrowth, micronutrient profiles at the time of diagnosis, the presence of any micronutrient deficiencies, whether replacement was initiated, and if this had an impact on hair regrowth.

Who is leading the project:

Dr Amr Salam is a Dermatology specialist registrar with an interest in autoimmune hair disorders He was awarded the Deanery prize for the best research project for his programme. He has 19 peer-reviewed international publications, including publications pertaining to hair disorders. Dr Salam will be working with a group of clinical researchers, including Dr David Fenton. Dr Fenton is a consultant Dermatologist and has been running the Hair Research Clinic at St Thomas’s Hospital since 1983. He provides the only dedicated paediatric NHS hair clinic in the UK.