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August 1959

Partial Alopecia Due to Thallium

Author Affiliations

Corpus Christi, Texas

AMA Arch Derm. 1959;80(2):223. doi:10.1001/archderm.1959.01560200091014

During the past two and one-half years, I have observed 13 cases of slight to moderate alopecia from the ingestion of thallium. The first five were in small children who had eaten varying amounts of a cake-crumb roach killer containing thallium.* During this period there were approximately 40 reported cases of thallium poisoning in small children in Corpus Christi from the same preparation. Legal action was taken by the County Medical Society to force the manufacturers of the roach killer to include a bitter-tasting substance to make the cake-crumb preparation less attractive to children. Since this has been done, I have seen only two cases of thallium alopecia in children. I have, however, observed six cases of slight to almost complete diffuse alopecia in women. The diagnosis was proved in all cases by spectroscopic examination of the patient's urine for thallium. If it had not been for