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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 12  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 89-92  

Congenital triangular alopecia - A case report

Department of Dermatology, Shree Krishna Hospital, Karamsad, Gujarat, India

Date of Submission15-Mar-2020
Date of Decision14-Apr-2020
Date of Acceptance17-Apr-2020
Date of Web Publication05-May-2020

Correspondence Address:
Pragya Ashok Nair
Department of Dermatology, Pramukhswami Medical College, Shree Krishna Hospital, Karamsad, Gujarat
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijt.ijt_4_20

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Congenital triangular alopecia also known as temporal triangular alopecia or Brauer nevus may be present at birth or acquired during the first decade of life. It can present as triangular, oval, or lancet-shaped patch of alopecia. It may be misdiagnosed as alopecia areata, traction alopecia, trichotillomania, tinea capitis, and aplasia cutis congenita. Histopathological features and dermoscopic features help in its diagnosis. There is no effective treatment for it and, in most cases, there is no need for therapeutic intervention. Therapeutic modalities include topical minoxidil, surgical excision, and hair transplantation.

Keywords: Dermatoscopy, minoxidil, temporal triangular alopecia, vellus hair

How to cite this article:
Patel DR, Tandel JJ, Nair PA. Congenital triangular alopecia - A case report. Int J Trichol 2020;12:89-92

How to cite this URL:
Patel DR, Tandel JJ, Nair PA. Congenital triangular alopecia - A case report. Int J Trichol [serial online] 2020 [cited 2023 Jun 6];12:89-92. Available from: https://www.ijtrichology.com/text.asp?2020/12/2/89/283808

   Introduction Top

Congenital triangular alopecia (CTA) is a type of circumscribed, nonprogressive, noncicatricial type of alopecia, which was originally described by Sabouraud in 1905 as “alopecia triangulaire congenitale de la temp.”[1] Most cases arise at ages 2–9 years or the disease may even manifest itself in adulthood.[2] It presents as nonscarring, noninflammatory triangular, oval or lancet-shaped alopecia confined to the frontotemporal scalp.[1] Dermoscopy can be used to differentiate it from its mimics as it is an indispensable tool which reduces the need for invasive diagnostic procedures and avoid unnecessary treatments. There is no effective treatment for CTA.

   Case Report Top

A 23-year-old male presented to skin outpatient department with complain of nonprogressive patch of hair loss over the right side of scalp since birth. The patient had consulted an ayurvedic practitioner for the same with no improvement by oral medications, hair oil, and shampoo. There was no history of joint pain, bone, or teeth abnormalities. No history of itching, contact with chemicals, or dandruff over scalp. No significant past and family history or any comorbidities present.

Cutaneous examination showed single, well-defined, triangular patch of alopecia measuring approximately 4 cm × 2 cm with sparse hair in between over right frontotemporal region [Figure 1]. The overlying skin was normal with no inflammation or atrophy.
Figure 1: Single, well.defined, triangular patch of alopecia measuring approximately 4 cm × 2 cm with sparse hair in between over the right frontotemporal region

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Dermoscopy done with hand held LED ILLUCO dermoscope IDS-1100 having polarized light illumination having ×10 magnification showed normal follicular openings with vellus hairs surrounded by terminal hairs on the outskirts of the lesion [Figure 2] with the absence of yellow and/or black dots, brittle hair, and “exclamation mark” hairs.
Figure 2: Dermoscopy showed normal follicular openings with vellus hairs surrounded by terminal hairs on the outskirts

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The patient was treated with topical minoxidil (5%) to be applied over the affected area once in a day. New vellus hair [Figure 3]a and [Figure 3]b developed after 3 months of treatment.
Figure 3: (a and b) Clinical and dermoscopy after 3 months of minoxidil showing newly developed vellus hair

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   Discussion Top

CTA also known as temporal triangular alopecia (TTA) or Brauer nevus may present at birth as in our case or may be acquired during the first decade of life. It remains stable throughout the life. It has an incidence of 0.1% with no sex predominance.[1] There are also reports of the disease manifesting in adulthood.[3] TTA affects mainly white patients.[2] It is usually unilateral in 80% and has been more commonly described on the left side and rarely described bilaterally. Our case had the lesion unilaterally but on the right side of frontotemporal area.

It is a developmental defect that was once considered congenital but now many consider it to be acquired due to miniaturization of hair follicles ultimately forming the vellus hairs characteristic of the disease. It is usually sporadic but rarely may occur in families and is considered to be a paradominant trait.[4] Mosaicism is another proposed mechanism, and it is inherited as a para dominant trait associated with postzygotic loss of the wild type allele in a heterozygote state.

There are reports of variable shapes of alopecia, ranging from triangular, oval, or lancet shaped.[5] The cardinal feature of lancet shaped lesion is few centimeters in width, either unilateral or bilateral with the tip of the “lancet” superiorly and posteriorly. The temporal region of the scalp is the most common area affected; followed by frontotemporal and then the occipital in 2.5% of cases.[6]

It may be misdiagnosed as alopecia areata, traction alopecia, trichotillomania, tinea capitis, and aplasia cutis congenita.[7] Differentiating features of its mimics on the basis of clinical morphology, site, dermatoscopy, and histopathology are summarized in [Table 1].
Table 1: Differentiating features of mimics of congenital triangular alopecia

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Bilateral frontotemporal recession of the hairline differentiates CTA from androgenetic alopecia. Potassium hydroxide examination will help in differentiating between CTA and tinea capitis. Typical tonsure pattern of alopecia and perifollicular hemorrhage and pigmentation in dermoscopy helps it to differentiate from trichotillomania while no history of any trauma or absence of skin over the scalp since birth; rules out aplasia cutis. Down syndrome, iris nevus syndrome, phakomatosis, pigmentovascularis, congenital heart disease, bone and tooth abnormalities, mental retardation, and congenital aplasia cutis, has been reported to be associated with CTA.[8]

Diagnostic criteria proposed for congenital alopecia include: (1) triangular or spear shaped area of alopecia involving the frontotemporal region of scalp, (2) normal follicular openings with vellus hair surrounded by normal terminal hair on dermoscopy, (3) absence of yellow and black spots, dystrophic hair, or decreased follicular openings on dermoscopy, and (4) persistent without significant hair regrowth for 6 months after clinically or trichoscopically confirming the existence of vellus hairs.[9]

The patient fulfilled the criteria with triangular alopecia on the right side of frontotemporal region of scalp since birth, normal follicular opening with vellus hairs surrounded by terminal hair and absence of yellow and black dots. On histopathology, the absence of mature hair follicles and presence of vellus hairs give an appearance of “miniaturized hair follicles” as seen in androgenetic alopecia, normal number of follicles with a predominance of vellus hair, but occasional terminal hair in the superficial dermis, without any evidence of inflammation or scarring.[2] Dermoscopic findings include normal follicular openings with vellus hairs covering the area of alopecia and terminal hairs on the outskirts of the lesion.

There is no effective treatment for TTA and, in most cases, there is no need for therapeutic intervention except counseling as enlightening the parents about the benign nature of the dermatosis is essential. Therapeutic modalities include surgical excision, hair transplantation, and topical minoxidil. Minoxidil has been used effectively, with a relapse soon following treatment cessation.[10] The patient showed respond with minoxidil in the form of growth of new vellus hair after 3 months, but the patient has to be kept under follow-up to see the response after cessation of treatment. Hair implant and surgical excision of the lesion are the main therapeutic proposals in cases with significant esthetic and emotional injury. Complete excision may be considered for small lesions, while others would require hair restoration surgery.[11]

   Conclusion Top

This case was reported to diagnose such rare entity with the help of dermatoscope, which can be easily mistaken for alopecia areata and thus undue use of topical and intralesional steroids can be avoided.

Declaration of patient consent

The authors certify that they have obtained all appropriate patient consent forms. In the form the patient(s) has/have given his/her/their consent for his/her/their images and other clinical information to be reported in the journal. The patients understand that their names and initials will not be published and due efforts will be made to conceal their identity, but anonymity cannot be guaranteed.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

   References Top

Yamazaki M, Irisawa R, Tsuboi R. Temporal triangular alopecia and a review of 52 past cases. J Dermatol 2010;37:360-2.  Back to cited text no. 1
Inui S, Nakajima T, Itami S. Temporal triangular alopecia: Trichoscopic diagnosis. J Dermatol 2012;39:572-4.  Back to cited text no. 2
Jakhar D, Grover C. Congenital alopecia of eyebrow. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 2018;84:743-4.  Back to cited text no. 3
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
Happle R. Congenital triangular alopecia may be categorized as a paradominant trait. Eur J Dermatol 2003;13:346-7.  Back to cited text no. 4
Verma P. Triangular temporal alopecia revisited. Indian J Dermatol 2016;61:125.  Back to cited text no. 5
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
Taş B, Pilanci Ö, Başaran K. Congenital temporal triangular alopecia: A typical brauer nevus. Acta Dermatovenerol Alp Pannonica Adriat 2013;22:93-4.  Back to cited text no. 6
Viswanath V, Kalambe V, Sanap D. Congenital triangular alopecia: Clinical and dermoscopic differentials. Indian J Paediatr Dermatol 2019;20:75.  Back to cited text no. 7
  [Full text]  
Lederer D, Wilson B, Lefesvre P, Poorten VV, Kirkham N, Mitra D, et al. Atypical findings in three patients with Pai syndrome and literature review. Am J Med Genet A 2012;158A:2899-04.  Back to cited text no. 8
Campos JG, Oliveira CM, Romero SA, Klein AP, Akel PB, Pinto GM. Use of dermoscopy in the diagnosis of temporal triangular alopecia. An Bras Dermatol 2015;90:123-5.  Back to cited text no. 9
Bang CY, Byun JW, Kang MJ, Yang BH, Song HJ, Shin J, et al. Successful treatment of temporal triangular alopecia with topical minoxidil. Ann Dermatol 2013;25:387-8.  Back to cited text no. 10
Kudligi C, Bhagwat PV, Eshwarrao MS, Tandon N. Giant congenital triangular alopecia mimicking alopecia areata. Int J Trichology 2012;4:51-2.  Back to cited text no. 11


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3]

  [Table 1]

This article has been cited by
1 Regrowth of hair in congenital triangular alopecia induced by sublingual minoxidil
Karlijn L. J. Clarysse, Rodney Sinclair
Australasian Journal of Dermatology. 2023;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]


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