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Dermatol Online J. 2011 Nov 15;17(11):1.

The "Fringe Sign" - A useful clinical finding in traction alopecia of the marginal hair line.

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Department of Dermatology, University of California, San Francisco, California, USA.



Traction alopecia is hair loss caused by prolonged or repetitive tension on the hair. Diagnostic challenges are encountered when the clinical suspicion is not high and when a history of traction is remote or not obtained. We have made the observation that the presence of retained hairs along the frontal and/or temporal rim, which we termed the "fringe sign," is a finding seen in both early and late traction alopecia, and may be a useful clinical marker of the condition.


This was a retrospective single-center review to determine the frequency of the fringe sign in patients with traction alopecia.


Over a 3.5-year period the diagnosis of traction alopecia was made in 41 women. Twelve of the 41 patients were Hispanic (29%). Thirty-five (85%) of all women and 100 percent of women who had traction involving the marginal hairline had the fringe sign. Fourteen biopsies (58%) were available for review. Histopathologic findings included retained sebaceous glands (100%), an increase in vellus-sized hairs (50%), a decrease in terminal hairs (100%), fibrotic fibrous tracts (100%), and sparse lymphocytic inflammation (57%).


The fringe sign is a sensitive and specific clinical feature of traction alopecia when it involves the marginal hairline.

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