Ultra-structural hair alterations of drug abusers: A scanning electron microscopic investigation

KAFA F. P., Kasirga U. B., ÇELİK H. H.

International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, vol.8, no.6, pp.8803-8811, 2015 (SCI-Expanded) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 8 Issue: 6
  • Publication Date: 2015
  • Journal Name: International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.8803-8811
  • Keywords: Anatomy, Cannabis, Cocaine, Drug abuse, Hair, Heroin, LSD, Lysergic acid diethylamide, Scanning electron microscope
  • Anadolu University Affiliated: No


As drug abuse carries a societal stigma, patients do not often report their history of drug abuse to the healthcare providers. However, drug abuse is highly co-morbid with a host of other health problems such as psychiatric disorders and skin diseases, and majority of individuals with drug use disorders seek treatment in the first place for other problems. Therefore, it is very important for physicians to be aware of clinical signs and symptoms of drug use. Recently diagnostic value of dermatologic tissue alterations associated with drug abuse has become a very particular interest because skin changes were reported to be the earliest noticeable consequence of drug abuse prompting earlier intervention and treatment. Although hair is an annex of skin, alterations on hair structure due to drug use have not been demonstrated. This study represents the first report on ultra-structural hair alterations of drug abusers. We have investigated ultra-structure of the hair samples obtained from 6 cocaine, 6 heroin, 7 cannabis and 4 lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) abusers by scanning electron microscope (SEM). SEM analysis of hair samples gave us drug-specific discriminating alterations. We suggest that results of this study will make a noteworthy contribution to cutaneous alterations associated with drug abuse which are regarded as the earliest clinical manifestations, and this SEM approach is a very specific and effective tool in the detection of abuse of respective drugs, leading early treatment.