Uncombable Hair Syndrome

Pili trianguli et canaliculi is a rare genetic disease also known as "uncombable hair syndrome" and "spun glass hair." From an abstract in the medical journal Ultrastructural Pathology (photo from The World's Fair blog):
 3172 2612405338 0F265Fc152 Both inherited (autosomal dominant and recessive with variable levels of penetrance) and sporadic forms of uncombable hair syndrome have been described, both being characterized by scalp hair that is impossible to comb due to the haphazard arrangement of the hair bundles. A characteristic morphologic feature of hair in this syndrome is a triangular to reniform to heart shape on cross-sections, and a groove, canal or flattening along the entire length of the hair in at least 50% of hairs examined by scanning electron microscopy. Most individuals are affected early in childhood and the hair takes on a spun-glass appearance with the hair becoming dry, curly, glossy, lighter in color, and progressively uncombable. Only the scalp hair is affected.
Uncombable Hair Sydrome on Wikipedia, Uncombable Hair Syndrome on The World's Fair blog


  1. It seems this disease is rather inaccurately named. The hair is comable, it simply won’t stay that way. When I read the title I got the impression that the disease would create a solid mass of hair, which would be indeed, uncomable. Or combable. Whichever is correct.

    The pic looks like hair that has been overbleached – exact same texture.

  2. What’s the syndrome where your hair looks messy five minutes after you comb it?

    I gots that.

  3. Wow- finally a name for a disease I’ve suffered from for most of my life… I wonder if I can get some form of disability benefit? :)

  4. BADKITTYM: Yeah, 2nd on the hair looking bleached. That’s what my hair looks like after I bleach it. Weird, it kind of behaves in a similar way right after stripping all the color out. It stands straight up from my scalp.

  5. What if you let it grow out? Is the hair resistant to some of the stronger gels and styling projects? What about having it blown or something at a salon? Is there really nothing which can be done? I guess I kinda feel bad complaining about my own (controllable though erratic) hair texture now.

  6. How is there only one picture of this? And it looks like someone with s—-y 80s hair, not some crazy obscure malady. I’m calling Long Horse.

  7. #16 – actually, these days it’s kinda nifty to have hair that is uncontrollable. A good cut, a little texturizer, and voila! As a person whose hair has a mind of its own and always has, I LIKE my Irish Afro. I had big hair before it was in, and big hair after it was out again. Only during the late seventies and part of the eighties did most everyone look (or try to look) the same as I did, hair-wise. My advantage was not needing to use an entire can of Aquanet to achieve the gravity-defying styles of the times.

  8. Judging by the photo, uncombable hair syndrome also causes unbridled joy.

    That is without doubt the happiest I’ve ever seen someone who’s had their eyes blacked out. Sounds like a fun idea for an art project — anonymous glee.

  9. Ooooh! Ooooh! I know two kids with this kind of hair. At least, I think this is what they have. They are exQUISite, with fine, perfect features and absolute THATCHES of this hair, sort of dusky blonde. They look like elfin children or something. They are otherworldly-looking. I always want to touch their hair. Some day I’m gonna cop a feel very casually. Actually, I’d like to pluck a few strands and get a look at a cross-section.

    But really, I’m no a danger to children. Really.

  10. Hmmm … judging from the pictures, yes, this is truly crazy – the hair really does look like fibreglass, or look they put wet gel in and went to sleep on it as it dried.

    And while we’re on links to OMIM, here’s my favourite hereditary “disorder”: Autosomal Dominant Compelling Helioopthalmic Outburst Syndrome (ACHOO) – sneezing on sudden exposure to bright sunlight. (I have this, as, it would seem, do quite a lot of people) :)

  11. Does the syndrome also cause you to have gaping rectilinear holes where your eyes should be?

  12. A tin of Murray’s pomade would clear that condition right up. Make it combable, but then ummovable.

  13. And why hasn’t our pharmaceutical industry come up with a pill for this… syndrome… yet?

    “FolliclEaz” or somesuch?

  14. This seems to explain Andy Warhol’s hair, tho’ not why his wig was similarly designed.

  15. My youngest son has the same kind of hair. He keeps it short but it is really soft. It is light blond with traces of red in it. It has a shimmer to it in the light. Conditioners don’t do a thing. Gels work but only if you slather it on and basically glue the hair in place. When he was little we let it grow, It would almost stick out straight for more than 3 inches. No one else in the family has it.

  16. Did someone ask for a derm horror story? Okay. So we had this patient with bullous pemphigus (don’t look it up) which caused a lot of her skin to slough off, to the point where you could see her back ribs, see the actual bone. The area was covered with one of those clear dressings that looks like breathable saran wrap. Unfortunately, she was in the room next to the pantry. One morning, when the nurse went to change her dressing, there were hundreds of ants under it, eating her flesh while she lay in her hospital bed. Seriously, don’t get sick.

  17. My son has these “cowlicks” all over his head. They are uncombable,so we just keep it short.

  18. I think one of my barbies when I was a kid had this condition.

    Antinous, thanks — not eating anything ever again will surely be good for my figure.

  19. Doc Tourneau, This is a rare genodermatosis genetic disorder. The pharmaceutical industry can’t create a pill to fix genes, chromosomes, and dna. That’s like asking why we don’t have a pill to change eye color, hair color, skin color, our sex, our height… get the point. (Unless you possess the ability to attempt this miraculous feat?) Godspeed, Jewel

  20. alrightt
    i got this shit when i was like a few months old i was diegnosed with it only 60 people in the united states with it. im 17 now and i still have it so whoever said it only lasts until your 12 needs to be sued..
    i dye my hair and it comes out fine but i have to get it redone more then most people.
    when you grow your hair long it doesnt change my hair is halfway down my back and took at least 5 years to get it that way so it takes forever to grow.
    i got out of swimming in 10th grade cause of it so thats a benifit :)
    but other then that its okay
    i like it cause its unique but then again its sooo hard to take care of

  21. They make hair junk that would tame that mane, Vitalis?
    No way, hair like that needs the greasy kid stuff!
    Or twelve coats of TV guy hair spray.
    No problemo!
    “Cookie,Cookie!” “Lend me you’r comb!”.
    How many 50’s cliches can YOU spot?
    Brought to you by Tiger Paw Wide Ovals, Chesterfield, Pabst Blue Ribbon, and Aunt Jemima!

  22. My daughter just turned 5 and was diagnosed with UHS when she was two. The hair color is part of the disease and the hair is very brittle making it difficult to grow out. The hair strands twist, not really curly, more frizzy. We keep her hair in a short cut that is very cute on her. Before we realized she had this condition her hair would break off on the back of her head from rubbing on her pillow. I do not consider it to be un-combable but it does knot easy due to the strange texture of the hair strands. When my daughter was diagnosed, pictures and hair samples were taken for research because the condition is very rare. She was diagnosed at one of the top pediatric hospitals in the Nation and before my daughter went there they had not seen UHS for over 7 years. With all the kids they see in a day, that tells you how rare the syndrome really is.

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