Scalp hyperkeratosis and alopecia in children of color

Marcelyn K. Coley, Dhaval G. Bhanusali, Jonathan I. Silverberg, Andrew F. Alexis, Nanette B. Silverberg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: Scalp hyperkeratosis and/or alopecia are common pediatric dermatologic findings. In Caucasian children, scalp hyperkeratosis of childhood is most often associated with atopic and seborrheic dermatides. Recent data is lacking on the clinical meaning of scalp hyperkeratosis and alopecia in children of color. Objective: To determine diagnosis associated with scalp hyperkeratosis and/or alopecia in a predominately Black and Hispanic pediatric patient population. Methods: A retrospective chart review was conducted for all children (0-17 years of age) seen at our institution who had a scalp fungal culture for the evaluation of scalp hyperkeratosis and/or alopecia from January 2007 to September 2009. Fungal culture was performed using cotton swab technique, plating onto Sabouraud's and Mycosel media. Demographic features, fungal culture results, clinical symptoms, physical findings and final diagnosis were reviewed. Results: 164 children were identified who were eligible for inclusion in the study, 75 of whom were Black and 56 Hispanic/Latino. Scalp hyperkeratosis was noted in 106 patients and alopecia was noted in 71 subjects. Tinea capitis was the final diagnosis in 50 out of 80 children who had hyperkeratosis without alopecia (60%), 16 of 43 children with alopecia alone (37.2%) and 23 of 28 children with both hyperkeratosis and alopecia (82.1%, P=0.0007). The odds ratio of tinea capitis in the presence of hyperkeratosis with alopecia was 7.49 with a 95 percent confidence limit of 2.19-25.70. Conclusion: Scalp hyperkeratosis, especially when accompanied by alopecia, is usually associated with tinea capitis in Black and Hispanic children. Fungal culture and empirical anti-fungal therapy are warranted in children of color with scalp hyperkeratosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)511-516
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Drugs in Dermatology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology


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