Search Encyclopedia:    
List of Topics Print This Page
 

Trichorrhexis nodosa


Definition:

Trichorrhexis nodosa is a problem in which thickened or weak points (nodes) along the hair shaft cause your hair to break off easily.

Alternative Names:

Hair shaft fracture; Brittle hair; Fragile hair; Hair breakage

Causes:

Trichorrhexis nodosa can be an inherited condition.

Certain things you do to your hair such as blow-drying, over-brushing, perming, or excessive chemical use, appear to trigger the condition.

In some cases, trichorrhexis nodosa is caused be an underlying disorder, such as:

  • Thyroid not making enough thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism)
  • Buildup of ammonia in the body (argininosuccinic aciduria)
  • Iron deficiency
  • Menkes syndrome (Menkes kinky hair syndrome)
  • Group of conditions in which there is abnormal development of the skin, hair, nails, teeth, or sweat glands (ectodermal dysplasia)
  • Trichothiodystrophy (inherited disorder that causes brittle hair, skin problems, and intellectual disability)
Symptoms:

Your hair may break easily or it may appear like it is not growing.

In African Americans, looking at the scalp area using a microscope shows that the hair breaks off at the scalp area before it grows long.

In White, the problem often appears at the end of a hair shaft in the form of split ends, thinning hair, and hair tips that look white.

Exams and Tests:

The health care provider will examine your hair and scalp. Some of your hairs will be checked under a microscope.

Blood tests may be ordered to check for anemia, thyroid disease, and other conditions.

Treatment:

If you have a disorder that is causing your trichorrhexis nodosa, it will be treated.

Your provider may recommend measures to reduce damage to your hair such as:

  • Gentle brushing with a soft brush instead of aggressive brushing or ratting
  • Avoiding harsh chemicals such as those used in straightening compounds and perms
  • Not using a very hot hair dryer for long periods and not ironing the hair
  • Using a gentle shampoo and a hair conditioner
Outlook (Prognosis):

Improving grooming techniques and avoiding products that damage hair will help correct the problem.

This condition is not dangerous, but may affect a person's self-esteem.

When to Contact a Medical Professional:

Call your provider if symptoms do not improve with changes in grooming and other home-care measures.

References:

Habif TP. Hair diseases. In: Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology: A Color Guide to Diagnosis and Therapy. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2016:chap 24.

Patterson JW. Diseases of cutaneous appendages. In: Patterson JW, ed. Weedon's Skin Pathology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2015:chap 15.


Review Date: 4/14/2015
Reviewed By: Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 2002 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

   View History
  Trichorrhexis nodosa

Related Links
Request an Appointment Online or call
1-800-789-PENN (7366)
Broken bone
Hair loss
   
   

 

About UPHS   Contact Us   Site Map   Privacy Statement   Legal Disclaimer   Terms of Use

The University of Pennsylvania Health System, Philadelphia, PA 1-800-789-PENN © 2016, The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania