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Not to be confused with poliomyelitis, a viral disease that attacks nerves and causes paralysis.
Vitiligo and Poliosis.jpg
Depigmentation of sections of skin and hair in 48-year-old man with vitiligo and poliosis.
Classification and external resources
Specialty dermatology
ICD-10 L67.1 (ILDS L67.150)
DiseasesDB 29296

Poliosis, also called poliosis circumscripta, is the decrease or absence of melanin (or colour) in head hair, eyebrows, eyelashes or any other hairy area.

This condition can cause single or, less commonly, multiple white patches on the hair. Some mistake these white patches for simple birth marks. In poliosis there is decreased or absent melanin in the hair bulbs of affected hair follicles; the melanocytes of the skin are usually not affected.[1] Poliosis occurs in several genetic syndromes such as piebaldism, Waardenburg syndrome, neurofibromatosis type I, and tuberous sclerosis.[2] It can also occur in conditions such as vitiligo, Vogt–Koyanagi–Harada disease, alopecia areata, sarcoidosis, and in association with neoplasms and some medications. [1]

It can give rise to a "Mallen streak" that can be hereditary. Catherine Cookson wrote a novel and later a TV series called The Mallen Streak, where a family had the condition. Sports presenter Dickie Davies and runner Sam Brown were famous for this feature.


  1. ^ a b Sleiman R, Kurban M, Succaria F, Abbas O (2013). "Poliosis circumscripta: overview and underlying causes.". J Am Acad Dermatol. 69 (4): 625–33. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2013.05.022. PMID 23850259. }
  2. ^ Willacy H. (2010). "Tuberous Sclerosis". PatientPlus. Patient.info. Retrieved May 2, 2011.