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The “Fringe Sign” A Useful Clinical Finding in Traction Alopecia of the Marginal Hair Line

Author(s): Paradi Mirmirani

Journal: Journal of Clinical & Experimental Dermatology Research
ISSN 2155-9554

Volume: 2;
Issue: 2;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: Traction alopecia | Hispanic | Hairstyles | Histopathology | African American

Background: Traction alopecia is hair loss due to prolonged or repetitive tension on the hair. Diagnostic challenges may be encountered if the clinical suspicion for traction is not high, or if the history of traction is remote or not obtained. Since pathologic features can vary dramatically with the stage of the disorder clinico-pathologic correlation is essential. We have made the observation that the presence of retained hairs along the frontal and/or temporal rim, which we termed the “fringe sign”, is a finding that can be see in both early and late traction alopecia, and thus may be a useful clinical marker of the condition. Objective: To determine the frequency of the fringe sign in a series of patients with a diagnosis of traction alopecia. Methods: This was a retrospective single-center review. Results: Over a 3.5 year period the diagnosis of traction alopecia was made in 41women. Twelve of the 41 patients were Hispanic (29%). The average age of our cohort was 34. Thirty-five (85%) of all women and 100% of women who had traction involving the marginal hair line had the fringe sign. The majority of African American women (54%) compared to 17% of the Hispanic women had some clinical sign of scalp inflammation(most frequently scalp scaling). Fourteen biopsies(58%) were available for review. Histopathologic findings included retained sebaceous glands (100%) and an increase in vellus-sized hairs (50%), a decrease in terminal hairs (100%), fibrotic fibrous tracts (100%), and sparse lyphocytic inflammation (57%). Trichomalacia was only noted in only one of the biopsies. Limitations: Retrospective analysis, uncontrolled study. Conclusions: Hispanic women as well as African American women are at high risk for traction alopecia. The fringe sign was a sensitive and specific clinical feature of traction alopecia when it involved the marginal hair line. Retained sebaceous glands, decreased terminal hairs, and fibrotic fibrous tracts were noted in all histopathologic specimens.
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