Introduction: 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.
Methods: This was a retrospective single-center review to determine the frequency of the fringe sign in patients with traction alopecia.
Results: 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%).
Conclusions: The fringe sign is a sensitive and specific clinical feature of traction alopecia when it involves the marginal hairline.