Uncombable Hair? You Might Have a Genetic Condition


| LAST UPDATE 09/28/2022

By Sharon Renee
uncombable hair genetic condition
@miiih_viiih via Instagram

No one likes a bad hair day, and scientists may finally have an explanation for why people have untamable, frizzy hair. Uncombable Hair Syndrome, referred to as UHS, is a disorder where the hair is dry and wiry and stands away from the scalp with seemingly no ability to flatten it. No shampoo, conditioner, or frizz control will help cure this hair problem. Here's what to know...

Human geneticist Regina Betz and her team from the University Hospital Bonn in Germany discovered 3 genes contributing to this disorder. The team has analyzed samples of over 100 people from all over the world. They learned that variants of just 1 gene contributed to 71% of the cases. This one gene, the PADI3 gene, encodes an enzyme involved in hair shaft formation. When there is a mutation in this gene, it ends up changing the entire structure of the hair strands. Therefore, people with mutations in this gene have a grooved hair shaft, whereas usually, the shaft is supposed to be smooth.

Uncombable Hair Syndrome genetic
@shilahmadison via Instagram
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The PADI3 gene accounts for more than 71% of the variants within the people studied by doctors published in JAMA Dermatology. There were reports that genes that encode hair proteins can also affect patients with UHS. These genes are TCHH and TGM3. While they do not have as big of an effect as PADI3, they were still reported as mutations causing UHS in patients. There is not much to fret over with UHS. There have been no reports of any additional symptoms or health issues related to the syndrome. In fact, in many cases, UHS is not even permanent. Many kids will eventually grow out of it. But the relief of having something diagnosed helps to quell fears and frustrations.

Many conditions can change one’s appearance, but that does not change who they are or what they are capable of doing with their life. While it may be frustrating for patients with UHS on their school picture day, it will never impact who they are. Scientists will continue to study the condition and learn more about it. Until then, stay tuned.

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