Alopecia areata is a chronic and often relapsing inflammatory disease of the hair follicles. Application of high-potency corticosteroids remains the first-line therapy for most patients presenting initially with alopecia areata of the scalp. Topical immunotherapy is recommended for those patients with a chronic disease of the scalp (>1 year duration), while intralesional injection of corticosteroids should be confined to cosmetically sensitive sites. Second-line treatments are topical dithranol, minoxidil, aroma oils and laser therapy. Systemic corticosteroids can only be considered for patients with an acute burst of alopecia areata. Since patients with alopecia areata frequently suffer from psychological distress and social impairment, supportive therapy is an important cornerstone in the therapeutic management of this disease.