Pityriasis amiantacea is characterised by thick, yellow-white scales densely coating the scalp skin and adhering to the hairs as they exit the scalp. The scales are arranged in an overlapping manner like tiles on a roof or flakes of asbestos, hence the name. The underlying scalp skin may appear normal, aside from the scale, or may be reddened or scaly. Pityriasis amiantacea is often present without any obvious underlying cause, but may be associated with psoriasis, seborrhoeic dermatitis or lichen simplex (another form of dermatitis).
Pityriasis amiantacea usually affects only part of the scalp but may occasionally involve the whole scalp.
Some hair loss is common is areas of pityriasis amiantacea. The hair regrows normally if the condition is effectively treated. Hairs may be pulled out by combing due to the very adherent, thick scale at the base of the hair shafts. If additional complications such as infection occur then hair loss may be associated with scarring but bald areas are rarely permanent.
The term “tinea amiantacea” is incorrect, because fungal infection, tinea capitis, is a very rare reason for this type of scaling.
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