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Poliosis - Hair and Scalp
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Poliosis - Hair and Scalp

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Contributors: Chris G. Adigun MD, David Dasher MD, Mary Gail Mercurio MD, Jeffrey D. Bernhard MD, Lowell A. Goldsmith MD, MPH
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Poliosis describes a circumscribed patch or patches of grey or white hair. Poliosis may occur in a number of syndromes, including Waardenburg syndrome, piebaldism, and others, as listed in Differential Diagnosis & Pitfalls. Poliosis may also be seen in association with regressing melanoma, vitiligo, halo nevi, and in alopecia areata when new hairs grow. In addition, poliosis may overlie other kinds of lesions, including neurofibromas, giant congenital nevi, congenital intradermal nevi, nevus depigmentosus, and melanoma. Poliosis has been observed following herpes zoster infection. Interestingly, postherpetic permanent hair repigmentation has also recently been described.

In migratory poliosis, circumscribed areas of grey or white hair migrate to different areas on the scalp. This condition is thought to represent a variant of alopecia areata.

Poliosis may also be seen in association with a number of drugs, including chloroquine, cyclosporine, and topical prostaglandin F2α analogs.

The pathogenesis of poliosis has not yet been defined but is thought to be multifactorial. One theory is that autoimmune or inflammatory diseases can damage melanocytes, leading to localized loss of pigment.


L67.1 – Variations in hair color

14240001 – Poliosis

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Diagnostic Pearls

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Differential Diagnosis & Pitfalls

External causes, such as hair dye and drugs, need to be ruled out.

Syndromes associated with poliosis include:
Conditions associated with poliosis include:
Patches of poliosis may overlie:

Best Tests

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Management Pearls

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Drug Reaction Data

Below is a list of drugs with literature evidence indicating an adverse association with this diagnosis. The list is continually updated through ongoing research and new medication approvals. Click on Citations to sort by number of citations or click on Medication to sort the medications alphabetically.

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Last Updated: 01/20/2015
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Poliosis - Hair and Scalp
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Poliosis : Shock of white hair
Clinical image of Poliosis
A circumscribed patch of white hair on the scalp.
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