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July 2018

Striking White Hair

Author Affiliations
  • 1The University of Texas McGovern Medical School at Houston, Houston
JAMA Dermatol. 2018;154(7):780. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2018.1062

Poliosis is a patch of white hair with decreased or absent melanin located in areas with hair growth, such as the scalp and eyebrows. This condition most commonly occurs on the scalp. If poliosis occurs on the scalp, it is referred to as a mallen streak. The term mallen streak originated from author Catherine Cookson’s The Mallen Trilogy book series, which had characters in the same family with this trait. In addition, poliosis has also been depicted in movies as a sign of malice and sin. In the 1939 film The Return of Doctor X, the main character has a mallen streak that further characterizes his deceitfulness. Other films that have characters with poliosis include Bride of Frankenstein and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

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