What is poliosis?

Poliosis can be defined as a localized white hair patches develop on the scalp, but also affected areas include the eyebrows, eyelashes. In male it may also include mustache and beard or any other hairy area. It can affect both the gender at any age of their life. Poliosis does not occur commonly, but some of the affected people put die and mask the white patch. (1,2)

Pigmentation of hair

The responsible pigment which provides the coloration of hair is melanin. Eumelanin and pheomelanin are the subtypes of melanin pigment.

Eumelanin is responsible for blackish brown coloration, whereas pheomelanin gives yellow and orange colors. The proportionate combination of these pigmenting agents contributes various shades to coloration of the human hair. Both the melanin pigments are produced by melanocytes or melanin manufacturer cells.

During embryonic growth, neural crest cells are producing the melanoblasts, which are also called precursor cells of melanocytes. Cell protein signaling is responsible for the transformation of melanoblasts to melanocytes and different genes regulate protein signaling.

Any mutagenic changes or removal of the concerned genes and any disorders in the transformation processes can apparent cause of genetic poliosis.

Follicular melanocytes produce the pigment present in the skin. The melanin particles are shifted into the keratinocyte cells present in cortical and medulla. Finally pigmented hair shafts are produced. Any localized interruption to these methods, include chemical or physical disturbances can cause hair loss may or may not be associated with poliosis. In autoimmune disorders affect the follicular melanocytes and may due to synthesizing the antibodies or neutralizes them. (5)


Histological manifestation describes that less amount of melanin (pigmenting agent, responsible for black or darken color of the skin or hair) production or complete absence of the pigmenting agent in the hair bulb of the involve part of the hair follicles.

The several causes of development of the poliosis include piebaldism, tuberous sclerosis and Waardenburg syndrome. These all included syndromes are linked with a genetic abnormality. In addition, some acquired conditions like inflammatory disorders, benign and malignant tumors that mainly affect pigmenting cells (melanocytic cells), certain medications and some other conditions are also associated with poliosis. (4, 6)


This is not only a syndrome, but it is also associated with several other medical conditions, including genetic factors. It is important, to identify the underlying cause and for this thorough knowledge of medical history and detailed collection of family records are important. Furthermore, the following assessments need to contact:

  • Complete physical examination
  • Dietary details
  • Hormonal functionality
  • Hematological analysis
  • Skin sample analysis
  • Neurological testing (4)


The treatment of genetic poliosis is yet not discovered. But other underlying causes may treatable and poliosis can be resolved. Following treatment and preventive measure can be helpful for development and progression of poliosis.

  • In some cases, cosmetic camouflage can help in some types of poliosis.
  • Ammi majus is one type of topical medication, which is available in the form of lotion or ointment and localized application may provide beneficial effects.
  • Avoid too frequent ingestion of antibiotic therapy.
  • Exposure in UV-B rays can provide beneficial effects in some cases.
  • Conducting an epidermal grafting on the depigmented skin present beneath the white hair patch.
  • Trying to eradicate the underlying factors that can cause to the development of white hair patches on head.
  • Adequate treatment of effective factors can also assist in evading the condition.

If the above mentioned treatments do not provide satisfactory results, then regular application of dye can help to mask the white color. Opting any bold hairstyle is another option, in which white hairs give a stylish look. (3,4)


  1. Anju Mathew; Poliosis; Retrieve from: http://www.hxbenefit.com/poliosis.html
  2. Sleiman R, Kurban M, Succaria F, Abbas O. (2013); Poliosis circumscripta: overview and underlying causes; J Am Acad Dermatol. 2013 Oct;69(4):625-33; Retrieve from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23850259
  3. Poliosis; DermNet NZ; Retrieve from:  http://www.dermnetnz.org/hair-nails-sweat/poliosis.html
  4. White Hair Patches- Its Causes And Treatments (2015); Retrieve from: http://www.stylecraze.com/articles/white-hair-patches-causes-treatments/
  5. Mahmood Syed Faheem ; What is poliosis – Poliosis treatment; Retrieve from: http://dynamicnaturesite.blogspot.in/2014/03/poliosis-treatment.html
  6. Esther Inglis-Arkell (2014); What Causes Someone To Get A White Streak In Their Hair? Retrieve from: http://io9.gizmodo.com/what-causes-someone-to-get-a-white-streak-in-their-hair-1662451803

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