Indian Journal of Dermatology
  Publication of IADVL, WB
  Official organ of AADV
Indexed with Science Citation Index (E) , Web of Science and PubMed
Users online: 1189  
Home About  Editorial Board  Current Issue Archives Online Early Coming Soon Guidelines Subscriptions  e-Alerts    Login  
    Small font sizeDefault font sizeIncrease font size Print this page Email this page

Table of Contents 
Year : 2013  |  Volume : 58  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 243
Monilethrix: A rare hereditary condition

Department of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprosy, Pondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences, Pondicherry, India

Date of Web Publication20-Apr-2013

Correspondence Address:
Satyaki Ganguly
Department of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprosy, Pondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences, Pondicherry
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0019-5154.110869

Rights and Permissions


Monilethrix is a rare hereditary condition generally considered to be an autosomal-dominant disorder with variable penetrance. Here, we report a case of monilethrix in a 13-year-old boy with an affected sibling. A therapeutic trial with oral N-acetyl cysteine was attempted. There was slight improvement after 2 months of therapy. The hair density, however, did not show any further improvement subsequently. Monilethrix remains as a therapeutic challenge for dermatologists.

Keywords: Hair shaft defects, Monilethrix, N-acetylcysteine,

How to cite this article:
Vikramkumar AG, Kuruvila S, Ganguly S. Monilethrix: A rare hereditary condition. Indian J Dermatol 2013;58:243

How to cite this URL:
Vikramkumar AG, Kuruvila S, Ganguly S. Monilethrix: A rare hereditary condition. Indian J Dermatol [serial online] 2013 [cited 2023 Jun 5];58:243. Available from:

What was known? 1. Monilethrix is a rare hereditary hair shaft disorder with beaded hair shafts. 2. It is usually autosomal.dominant but can be autosomal.recessive. 3. Treatment is generally not successful.

   Introduction Top

Moniletherix is a rare hereditary condition with variable expressivity characterized by the presence of beaded or spindle-shaped shafts of scalp hair. It is usually inherited as an autosomal-dominant trait but rarely can be autosomal-recessive. It shows considerable variations in age of onset, severity, and course. Hair is usually normal at birth and is progressively replaced by abnormal hair during first few months of life. [1] Here, we report a case of moniletherix, in whom we attempted treatment with oral N-acetylcysteine.

   Case Report Top

A 13-year-old boy, born to second degree consanguineous parents, had brownish scanty hair since early childhood. His younger brother aged 10 years also had sparse hair over the scalp [Figure 1]. Child was apparently normal till 1½ years of age, after which density of hair reduced from occipital and temporal regions and later over the entire scalp. On examination, the scalp hair was light brown, sparse, and appeared rough. Keratotic papules were seen over scalp. Very few vellus hairs were seen over the body. Diagnosis was confirmed by light microscopy, which showed beaded appearance of hair with nodes and internodes [Figure 2].
Figure 1: Monilethrix in siblings

Click here to view
Figure 2: Light microscopy of hair

Click here to view

After counseling, Tab. N-acetylcysteine 600 mg three times daily was given for 6 months. Minimum re-growth of hair was seen after 2 months of treatment, but the hair densityremained status quo subsequently. The hair, which was initially light brown in color, however, became more hyperpigmented.

   Discussion Top

Monilethix is generally considered to be an autosomal-dominant disorder with variable penetrance [Figure 3]. It is caused by mutations of the genes encoding type 2 hair keratins, hHb1, and hHb6. It is mapped to epithelial keratin gene cluster on 12q11-q13. Mutations have been found in desmoglein 4 in the autosomal-recessive form. [2] Avoiding the trauma is the most effective method of managing this anomaly. Congenitally abnormal hair tends to have an increased susceptibility to weathering and cosmetic damage, which can prevent hair from growing to its maximal length. There is still no definitive treatment recognized. [3] Various treatment modalities like griseofulvin, retinoids, topical 2% minoxidil etc., have shown improvement in isolated cases. [4] Karincoaglu et al. described that a very good clinical and cosmetic result was obtained while treatment was continued with oral acitretin in a 7-year-old girl. However, clinical symptoms recurred after discontinuation of acitretin therapy. [5] Since other hair shaft disorders like trichorrhexis nodosa and pili torti show deficiency in cysteine levels in hair keratin, N acetyl cysteine was tried, which showed slight improvement initially, though this was not persistent. Monilethrix remains a therapeutic challenge for dermatologists. Further studies are necessary to determine the beneficial effect of N-acetyl cysteine in the treatment of monilethrix.
Figure 3: Pedigree chart

Click here to view

   References Top

1.Sathyanaryana BD. Case Report-Monilethrix. Indian J Dermatol Venereol leprol 1998;64:5.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Jain N, Khopkar U. Monilethrix in pattern of distribution in siblings: Diagnosis by Trichoscopy. Int J Trichol 2010;2:56-9.  Back to cited text no. 2
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
3.Narmatha GR, Chithra S, Balasubramanian N. Monilethrix. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 2002;68:220-1.  Back to cited text no. 3
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
4.Rossi A, Iorio A, Scali E, Fortuna MC, Mari E, Palese E, et al. Monilethrix treated with minoxidil. J Immunopathol Pharmacol 2011;24:239-42.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Karincaoglu Y, Coskun BK, Seyhan ME, Bayram N. Monilethrix: Improvement with acitretin. Am J Clin Dermatol 2005;6:407-10.  Back to cited text no. 5

What is new? 1. A rare report of monilethrix occurring in siblings. 2. An attempt to treat with N.acetylcysteine


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3]


Print this article  Email this article
    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
    Article in PDF (1,137 KB)
    Citation Manager
    Access Statistics
    Reader Comments
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

   Case Report
    Article Figures

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded98    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal