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Dermatology Online Journal

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Tobacco-associated yellow discoloration of upper lip hair: smoker's mustache


Background: Hair is susceptible to exogenous sources of discoloration. There are several exogenous etiologies for yellow hair discoloration, including tobacco.

Purpose: We describe the clinical features of five men with tobacco-associated yellow discoloration of their mustache, a condition known as "smoker's mustache." We also review the characteristics of men with tobacco-associated yellow discoloration of their scalp or mustache hair.

Materials and methods: The features of five men with smoker's mustache are presented. Using PubMed, the following terms were searched and relevant citations assessed: 4-4'-methylenedianiline, acid, dithranol, MDA, mustache, nicotine, picric, resorcin, smoker, tar, tobacco, and yellow. In addition, the literature on smoker's mustache is reviewed.

Results: Smoker's mustache was an incidental finding and not the reason for patients presenting for medical attention. The condition was asymptomatic. In our patients, 60% (3 of 5) also had tobacco-related clinical findings on the distal soft tissue and/or nails of their fingers.

Conclusion: Smoker's mustache refers to tobacco-associated discoloration of the hair of the upper lip of men. It is an asymptomatic condition that usually presents as an incidental finding. Indeed, patients tend to be unaware of the condition until it is brought to their attention. In addition to hair manifestations, patients may also demonstrate other tobacco-associated skin and nail findings, particularly brown or yellow-brown discoloration of their fingertip and/or fingernail. We postulate that discontinuation of smoking would eventually result in spontaneous resolution of the condition. However, all of our patients were determined to continue smoking.

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