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Unruly hair: no fairy tale.

You think you've had a bad hair day? One U.S. woman has hair problems that go way beyond such ordinary complaints as split ends.

This true medical saga began when a 39-year-old woman with thick, light-brown hair complained to her doctor about hair loss. After she took the diuretic drug spironolactone for her treatable condition, the shedding decreased but the coarse, curly hair that grew back was so tangled she could not comb it, even with the liberal use of conditioners.

Dermatologist Wilma F. Berfeld and her colleagues at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation describe the woman's plight in the August ARCHIVES OF DERMATOLOGY. It turns out that she suffers from uncombable-hair syndrome.

That's the actual name of a bona fide condition. The syndrome, also called spun-glass hair, may have inspired a German fairy tale about a boy with unruly hair who never touched a comb.

Dermatologists have reported 50 cases of the medical syndrome, mostly in children age 3 to 12. This is the first known case of the condition developing in an adult with previously healthy hair, Bergfeld and her co-workers say.

When the team used an electron microscope to examine the woman's hairs in cross section, the shafts appeared abnormal. Unlike the normally round cross sections of human hair, this woman's shafts appeared triangular or kidney-bean shaped, notes coauthor James T. McMahon.
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Title Annotation:uncombable-hair syndrome
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Sep 11, 1993
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