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CASE REPORT
Year : 2017  |  Volume : 62  |  Issue : 6  |  Page : 658-660
“i hair”: A prognostic marker in alopecia areata & trichotillomania


Department of Dermatology, Rita Skin Foundation, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

Date of Web Publication24-Nov-2017

Correspondence Address:
Purva Ranjit Mehta
15, Lovely Rose Apartments, Juhu Road, Juhu, Mumbai - 400 049, Maharashtra
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/ijd.IJD_337_17

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   Abstract 


Trichoscopy as an investigative tool is revolutionizing the diagnosis of hair disorders. The use of a trichoscope has unveiled a plethora of signs which not only helps in decoding the underlying tricoscopic condition but also acts as prognostic markers. Herein, we present a new trichoscopic sign, “i hair” in alopecia areata and trichotillomania. “i hair” are short hairs with an accentuated distal end. There may be a thin hypopigmented shaft just beneath the darker distal end, thus making them resemble the alphabet “i.”


Keywords: Alopecia areata, i hair, trichotillomania


How to cite this article:
Malakar S, Mehta PR. “i hair”: A prognostic marker in alopecia areata & trichotillomania. Indian J Dermatol 2017;62:658-60

How to cite this URL:
Malakar S, Mehta PR. “i hair”: A prognostic marker in alopecia areata & trichotillomania. Indian J Dermatol [serial online] 2017 [cited 2019 Jun 17];62:658-60. Available from: http://www.e-ijd.org/text.asp?2017/62/6/658/219215

What was known?
i hair as a trichoscopic feature has been described in tinea capitis. It is a short hair with an accentuated, distal end, resembing the letter "i".



   Introduction Top


Trichoscopy as an investigative tool is revolutionizing diagnosis of hair disorders. The use of a trichoscope has unveiled a plethora of signs which not only help decode the underlying trichoscopic condition but also act as prognostic markers. Herein, we present a new trichoscopic sign, “i hair” in alopecia areata and trichotillomania.


   Case Reports Top


Case 1

A 16-year-old female child presented to us with patchy hair loss and decreased hair density for the past 5 months. On probing, she revealed that she indulges in pulling of hair. She was right handed and her hair loss on the scalp was limited to the range of her right hand [Figure 1]a.
Figure 1: (a) Case 1 showing decreased hair density and irregular hair length. (b) Trichoscopic image of Case 1 showing broken hair of varying lengths, flame hair (FH), coiled hair (CH), and mace sign confirming the diagnosis of trichotillomania. (c) Trichoscopic image of Case 1 showing “i hair” on follow-up after 6 weeks

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On trichoscopic examination, there were broken hair of varying lengths, coiled hair, flame hair, and mace sign,[1] confirming the trichoscopic diagnosis of trichotillomania.

Mace sign is a new trichoscopic sign characteristically seen in trichotillomania. The distal end of the hair shaft is bulbous, causing the hair to resemble a “mace.” Furthermore, the hair shaft in “mace” sign is hyperpigmented throughout its length, and the upper half is rough in texture due to pulling and playing action with hair in trichotillomania [Figure 1]b.[1]{Figure 1}

The patient was counseled and discouraged from indulging in picking and pulling of hair. She was started on a combination of amitriptyline 25 mg and chlordiazepoxide 10 mg.

On following the patient after 6 weeks, the trichoscopic field showed the presence of a short hair with an accentuated distal end, resembling the letter “i.” Hence, a new trichoscopic sign “i hair” is being proposed in trichotillomania [Figure 1]c.

Case 2

A 50-year-old male presented to us with a bald patch of the vertex of his scalp since few months. Clinically, a provisional diagnosis of alopecia areata was made [Figure 2]a.
Figure 2: (a) Case 2 presenting with a singular patch of alopecia. (b) Trichoscopic image of Case 2 showing coudability hair (CH), exclamation mark hair (EH), and yellow dots. (c) Trichoscopy of Case 2 after 1 month of treatment showing a short hair with an accentuated distal end, “i hair” (red arrow). Further, multiple regrowing vellus hair (VH) are seen indicating remission of the disease. Pohl-Pinkus constriction (PP) and coudability hair (CH) are present. At the periphery of the patch to the right of the trichoscopic field, normal, unaffected scalp with normal hair shafts is seen

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On performing trichoscopy of the bald patch, there were exclamation mark hair, coudability hair, and yellow dots. The presence of these three characteristic trichoscopic signs confirmed the diagnosis of alopecia areata [Figure 2]b.{Figure 2}

The patient was treated with mometasone furoate 0.1% cream twice daily and was asked to follow-up after 1 month for trichoscopic examination. Trichoscopy showed the presence of multiple regrowing vellus hair indicating remission of the disease. Further, coudability hair and Pohl-Pinkus constriction were present. At the center of the trichoscopic field, short hair with an accentuated distal end were observed. The proximal end of the short broken hair was hypopigmented in comparison to the darker distal end, again resembling the letter “i.” Therefore, a new trichoscopic sign, “i hair” is also being proposed in alopecia areata [Figure 2]c.


   Discussion Top


“i hair” are short hair with an accentuated distal end and a thin hypopigmented shaft just beneath the darker distal end, resembling the alphabet “i.”[2] To understand the formation of “i hair” in these disorders, it is necessary to comprehend black dots on trichoscopy first. Black dots are broken hair shafts and are seen as black dots inside the follicular openings on trichoscopy in alopecia areata, trichotillomania, and tinea capitis.[3]

We propose that “i hair” are modified black dots. As the disease process eventually abates, the black dot grows into normal hair. This short hair has an accentuated distal end (denoting the black dot) and a paler, hypopigmented shaft below it, thus resembling the letter “i.” In trichotillomania, black dots are remnants of hair shafts arising from broken or tapering hair due to repetitive hair pulling.[4] As this psychological impulse is controlled, the hair shaft starts growing normally with the black dot being pushed distally giving rise to “i hair.”

In alopecia areata, the inflammatory infiltrate around the lower portion of the anagen hair follicle causes anagen arrest and subsequent destruction of hair follicle.[5] In alopecia areata, black dots signify residues of pigmented hair destroyed at the level of the scalp. They denote disease activity and are a negative prognostic factor.[6] The histopathology of black dots in alopecia areata reveals dysmorphic hair shafts with damage to the hair follicle at the infundibular level.[7] Hence, on treating alopecia areata with immunomodulatory agents, the disease will remit causing the anagen follicle to regrow normally. The black dot remains at the tip of the growing follicle forming the accentuated dark tip, whereas the rest of the regrowing anagen hair forms the paler, hypopigmented shaft, giving rise to “i hair.”

“i hair” could be a positive prognostic marker in both trichotillomania and alopecia areata as its formation is attributed to the remission of the disease. So far, the presence of “i hair” has been mentioned in tinea capitis. However, we have found its presence in alopecia areata and trichotillomania. Further trichoscopic research is essential to assess the presence of this sign in all alopecias. Whether it can be labeled as a positive prognostic sign in all alopecias needs to be evaluated.

Declaration of patient consent

The authors certify that they have obtained all appropriate patient consent forms. In the form the patient(s) has/have given his/her/their consent for his/her/their images and other clinical information to be reported in the journal. The patients understand that their names and initials will not be published and due efforts will be made to conceal their identity, but anonymity cannot be guaranteed.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

 
   References Top

1.
Malakar S, Mukherjee SS. 'Mace sign' – A definitive sign of trichotillomania? Our Dermatol Online 2017;8:1-2.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Rudnicka L, Szepietowski J, Slowinska M, Lukomska M, Maj M, Pinheiro A. Tinea capitis. In: Rudnicka L, Olszewska M, Rakowska A, editors. Atlas of Trichoscopy. London: Springer; 2012. p. 367.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Miteva M, Tosti A. Hair and scalp dermatoscopy. J Am Acad Dermatol 2012;67:1040-8.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Shim WH, Jwa SW, Song M, Kim HS, Ko HC, Kim BS, et al. Dermoscopic approach to a small round to oval hairless patch on the scalp. Ann Dermatol 2014;26:214-20.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Tobin DJ, Fenton DA, Kendall MD. Cell degeneration in alopecia areata. An ultrastructural study. Am J Dermatopathol 1991;13:248-56.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Inui S, Nakajima T, Nakagawa K, Itami S. Clinical significance of dermoscopy in alopecia areata: Analysis of 300 cases. Int J Dermatol 2008;47:688-93.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Rudnicka L, Olszewska M, Rakowska A, Kowalska-Oledzka E, Slowinska M. Trichoscopy: A new method for diagnosing hair loss. J Drugs Dermatol 2008;7:651-4.  Back to cited text no. 7
    

What is new?
i hair has not yet been reported in trichotillomania and alopecia areata. Its trichoscopic role as a prognostic marker in these conditions has not been visited before.


    Figures

  [Figure 1], [Figure 2]



 

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