Skip to main content

Health Encyclopedia

Search the Health Encyclopedia

Trichorrhexis nodosa

Definition

Trichorrhexis nodosa is a common hair problem in which thickened or weak points (nodes) along the hair shaft cause your hair to break off easily.

Alternative Names

Hair shaft fracture; Brittle hair; Fragile hair; Hair breakage

Causes

Trichorrhexis nodosa can be an inherited condition.

The condition may be triggered by things such as blow-drying, over-brushing, perming, or excessive chemical use.

In some cases, trichorrhexis nodosa is caused by an underlying disorder, including very rare ones, such as:

  • Thyroid not making enough thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism)
  • Buildup of ammonia in the body (argininosuccinic aciduria)
  • Iron deficiency
  • Menkes syndrome (Menkes kinky hair syndrome)
  • Group of conditions in which there is abnormal development of the skin, hair, nails, teeth, or sweat glands (ectodermal dysplasia)
  • Trichothiodystrophy (inherited disorder that causes brittle hair, skin problems, and intellectual disability)
  • Biotin deficiency (inherited disorder in which the body is not able to use biotin, a substance needed for hair growth)

Symptoms

Your hair may break easily or it may appear like it is not growing.

In African Americans, looking at the scalp area using a microscope shows that the hair breaks off at the scalp area before it grows long.

In other people, the problem often appears at the end of a hair shaft in the form of split ends, thinning hair, and hair tips that look white.

Exams and Tests

The health care provider will examine your hair and scalp. Some of your hairs will be checked under a microscope or with a special magnifier used by skin doctors.

Blood tests may be ordered to check for anemia, thyroid disease, and other conditions.

Treatment

If you have a disorder that is causing trichorrhexis nodosa, it will be treated.

Your provider may recommend measures to reduce damage to your hair such as:

  • Gentle brushing with a soft brush instead of aggressive brushing or ratting
  • Avoiding harsh chemicals such as those used in straightening compounds and perms
  • Not using a very hot hair dryer for long periods and not ironing the hair
  • Using a gentle shampoo and a hair conditioner

Outlook (Prognosis)

Improving grooming techniques and avoiding products that damage hair will help correct the problem.

This condition is not dangerous, but may affect a person's self-esteem.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your provider if symptoms do not improve with changes in grooming and other home-care measures.

References

James WD, Berger TG, Elston DM. Diseases of the skin appendages. In: James WD, Berger TG, Elston DM, eds. Andrews' Diseases of the Skin. 12th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 33.

Patterson JW. Diseases of cutaneous appendages. In: Patterson JW, ed. Weedon's Skin Pathology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2016:chap 15.

Review Date:5/2/2017
Reviewed By:David L. Swanson, MD, Vice Chair of Medical Dermatology, Associate Professor of Dermatology, Mayo Medical School, Scottsdale, AZ. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997-A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

adam.com

The Agency for Health Care Administration (Agency) and this website do not claim the information on, or referred to by, this site is error free. This site may include links to websites of other government agencies or private groups. Our Agency and this website do not control such sites and are not responsible for their content. Reference to or links to any other group, product, service, or information does not mean our Agency or this website approves of that group, product, service, or information.

Additionally, while health information provided through this website may be a valuable resource for the public, it is not designed to offer medical advice. Talk with your doctor about medical care questions you may have.

Health Outcome Data

No data available for this condition/procedure.

Read More

Broken bone *

Hair loss


* Has Related Health Outcome Information

Health Encyclopedia

More Features

We Appreciate Your Feedback!
1. Did you find this information useful?
         Yes
         No
2. Would you recommend this website to family and friends?
         Yes
         No