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mysterious hair infection
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mysterious hair infection

Dear Doctor, I have been afflicted with an unidentifiable hair infection for over 12 years now. I've gone to several dermatologists only to be told that they have never seen anything like this and that they'd be unable to help me! The hairs have a firm milky translucent rubbery sheath that starts at the root and extends about 1/8" up the shaft ending just below the surface of the skin. At their worst, when totally inflamed, the sheaths are up to 2.5 to 3.5 times the width of the hair itself. The sheath can be seperated from the shaft with the aid of tweezers. It is not evident that anything is wrong just by looking at the surface of any hair covered skin. However, sometimes a hair would flair up, often from shaving.  My only treatment option to date has been to pluck out the offending hair and to also pluck out a surrounding swath of 1 or 2 inches of lesser infected hairs, until I reached areas where the hairs were infection free. This has gotten me by for years, but now I am under siege. My entire head, beard, etc has become inflamed.  I have always been very fastidious with my hygiene so I speculate this may be something endogenous.  This affliction has now hijacked my life ( I have not worked for 2 months now) and need to find a serious solution or a serious dermatologist.
Any help would be most appreciated. I am located in the N.Y. city area if you have any referrals. Thank you
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I'm afraid that I am not familiar with your condition either.  The closest thing I know of would be hair casts, which are sheaths of shiny material that can mistaken for louse nits, but these are not inflamed or infected.

If "It is not evident that anything is wrong just by looking at the surface of any hair covered skin," then why is your "only treatment option to date has been to pluck out the offending hair and to also pluck out a surrounding swath of 1 or 2 inches of lesser infected hairs, until I reached areas where the hairs were infection free."   What makes you think these are infected?  No infection would be "not evident."

I am very concerned that you are so incapacitated that you can't work.  I think you may have a variant of obsessive-compulsive disorder.  I think you should give serious consideration to seeing a psychiatrist who treats that disorder.  If any of the academic medical centers have a dermatology clinic with a psychiatric liaison, that would be best.  There are good medical treatments for what you may have.

I recognize that you might be skeptical or even offended by this suggestion, because people with a profound sense that they are "infected" do not take kindly to suggestions that their problem may have a psychiatric dimension.  I urge you to overcome such feelings, if you have them, and take the action you need to put your life back together.

Best.

Dr. Rockoff
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