Wednesday, March 26, 2008

You Learn Something New Every Day

So I ran across something today that made me giggle, until I realized it was real, and then it made me giggle even more.

I present to you the horrors of Uncombable Hair Syndrome (Note: this is a PDF file).

I didn't actually believe it at first, until I started looking at it a little closer, and looking around for corroboration; and yes, it is in fact a real, honest-to-goodness genetic syndrome. Apparently it affects (among other things) the cross-sectional shape of each hair, making it triangular or kidney-shaped instead of round. This causes hair that has the consistency of spun glass--and in fact, that's one of the common names of this syndrome, spun glass hair. It's also called ectodermal dysplasmia, pili trianguli et canaliculi, loose anagen hair syndrome, Bork Syndrome, and a bunch of other things as well.

I found this picture through this site, which I swear I've never visited before today. (I don't even visit it just to read the articles, really.)

So it's a genuine disorder. And apparently it's a soft indicator that there may be some other genetic issues that are more serious. Still, I'm just immature enough to be unable to stifle a snicker when I read the following, in a serious academic paper:
Uncombable hair may become first apparent from 3 months to 12 years of age.
Somehow, I don't find that the least bit surprising.
The hair is normal in quantity, and is usually silvery-blond or straw-colored. The hair stands out from the scalp, and its wild disorerly appearance totally resists any effort to control it with brush or comb.
Y'know, I've rather wondered about the Happy Boy. He always looks a little like Calvin on Picture Day.

Of course, there's some good news.
The eyebrows and eyelashes are normal.
Well, um, that's good to know, but actually this is the good news:
In later childhood a considerable degree of spontaneous improvement may occur.
So maybe there's some hope for the Calvins of the world after all. Happy Boy may be a little frizzy, but he'll grow into his head eventually. And through it all, he'll have normal eyebrows.


I ran across the above article at The Volokh Conspiracy, which is a group blog of (primarily libertarian) legal experts. I suspect they ran across it because of its references to "Bork Syndrome". Come to think of it Robert Bork did have fun hair, didn't he?

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