Sunday, October 4, 2015

the itchiest (and most successful?) alopecia areata treatment i've found: squaric acid dibutylester

in may, my dermatologist and i set out on a fun new alopecia areata adventure where we made my body allergic to a compound called squaric acid dibutylester (which from here forward i'll just refer to as squaric acid because dibutylester is a ridiculous word to type more than once) by applying a concentrated solution of it to my arm. (see amazing bicep photo below). this photo does not do justice to how itchy this got. like, the itchiest itch i've ever itched. it took about a week for the reaction to peak and eventually the reaction had to be stopped with cortisone (yay, steroids!).

next step was a less concentrated formula that i applied to my bald spots once a week. on a scale of 1 to "the itchiest itch i've ever itched", the formula that i apply on my scalp is probably a 6 or 7. the sensation lasts for about 36 hours, then it gets flaky, then at day 7 it looks like a "normal" bald spot again and it's time to reapply. i'm so happy to say that it's all worth it because typically after a few weeks of applying, i can start to see hair growth. (see amazing scalp photo below).

the idea behind squaric acid is that when applied to a bald spot, the allergic reaction earns the attention of your immune system as something to fight, rather than fighting with innocent hair follicles. i believe this treatment is also done with poison ivy, the downside being that poison ivy is a substance that you could run into in nature, whereas squaric acid is man-made and there's very little risk of running into it on a hike and having an over the top allergic reaction. does that make sense? i'm not a doctor.

i'm still applying the squaric acid to my menagerie of bald spots every 7 days, and happily scratching away, eagerly waiting to meet my new hair sprouts.

yay, chemistry!


  1. I jus came across your blog - its great. I have had AA on and off 20 years and reading others experiences always helpful! hope the reason you haven't blogged in a while is that its all growing back!

  2. Great results! I'm curious - are you and your dermatologist still experimenting with squaric acid dibutylester?

    Many men have reported some regrowth with other acid-based compounds - albeit for pattern hair loss and not AA. While the mechanisms aren't yet understood, some speculate that it has to do with pH-balancing.

    I hope to hear from you!

    1. Hey Rob!

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

      I am still using squaric acid, although I'm currently experiencing a major bald spot flare up. I actually find the squaric acid (and its itching) too intense due to how many spots I have. Squaric acid was great for making my hair grown back faster, but unfortunately didn't stop my hair from falling out... I'm still looking for the potion / pill that will help with that.