Are white hairs on your nose fine? Could mean cancer, doctor warns

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A recent social media video highlights an unusual but important cancer indicator that often goes unnoticed—the sudden growth of white hair on areas of the body that normally lack hair.

Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Scott Walter recently highlighted this issue in a TikTok post. The condition is called acquired hypertrichosis lanukinosa and affects fewer than 1,000 people in the United States, according to the Center for Genetic and Rare Diseases Information.

Walter explains in the video that lanugo, thin, unpigmented, wispy hairs like those of newborns, appear on the ears, cheeks and nose of adults. When this occurs, it may be paraneoplastic—an internal cancer, often caused by the body’s replication of the lung, breast, uterus, or womb.

„What’s crazy is that this symptom can precede a cancer diagnosis by two and a half years, meaning it can be the first sign that you have cancer,” Walter said. „Now, again, this is very rare, and I don’t want to scare you, but I think it’s an interesting way for our skin to tell us that something is going on internally.”

Other symptoms that can accompany HLA include swelling of the tongue, change in taste, loss of hair color, chronic diarrhea and weight loss, according to the Genetic and Rare Disease Information Center.

According to the World Health Organization, early detection is a key factor in successful cancer treatment, and awareness of lesser-known markers such as HLA can play an important role in this process.

„So, if you see something weird going on with your skin, definitely get it checked out,” Walter said.

2024 Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Quotation: Well, white hairs on your nose? May Sign Cancer, Doctor Warns (2024, July 11) Retrieved July 11, 2024, from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2024-07-fine-white-hairs-nose-cancer.html

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