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Unbelievably uncombable hair

What if everyday of your life your hair was such a tangled mess that you literally COULD NOT comb or brush it? Just imagine how this could affect your self-image. Considering how important hair is to our overall appearance, it could be psychologically devastating.

This is not a what if scenario for people with Uncombable Hair Syndrome (or UHS), a genetic condition that makes hair unable to be groomed. UHS is the next topic in the Beauty Brains’ Cosmetic Diseases and Disorders series.

What Is UHS

Uncombable Hair Syndrome was discovered by French researches in the early 1970s. They termed it “cheveux incoiffables” but it is also sometimes referred to as spun-glass hair. The disease is characterized by scalp hair that has an irregular structure and that is arranged in haphazard bundles that are impossible to comb. Fortunately, UHS is not a common phenomenon; there have only been about 60 cases reported in the journal literature between 1973 and 1998.

What Are The Symptoms

UHS usually starts in early in childhood. Initially the hair looks thin and glassy, then it becomes drier, curlier, and lighter in color. Eventually it becomes increasingly uncombable. The condition only affects scalp hair; pubic and arm pit hair are unchanged. Hairs afflicted with this disease have two defining features that can be seen under high magnfication: one is a triangular, or almost kidney bean cross-section. The other is a longitudinal groove or canal that runs along the length of the hair.

Partial baldness is also a possible side effect because the hair is not always properly anchored in the hair follicle properly. Unlike some of the other conditions that affect hair combabilty, UHS is NOT associated with physical, neurologic, or mental abnormalities.

What Does UHS Look Like

You can follow the links below to see examples of this condition. It`s really amazing how glass-like the hair is; it`s easy to see how the disease has earned the nickname spun glass hair.

UHS Photo 1

UHS Photo 2

UHS Photo 3

UHS Photo 4

How Is UHS Treated?

There is no certified treatment for Uncombable Hair Syndrome but there has been at least one report in the literature that daily doses of biotin can make the hair more pliable and easier to comb. However, this treatment did not restore the proper shape of the hair. Another article mentions the possible use of silver nitrate compresses, mycolog ointment, and occasional antibiotics but there is no real evidence that any of these are effective. Fortunately, it`s not uncommon for the condition to automatically reverse itself with advancing age.