Section : History & Terminology

Piebaldism: rare but all dermatologists have heard this strange term during residency

  • For one, this term is not originally from Latin and Greek, but from English and French:
    • “Pie-” (french) = magpie (a bird)
      • The french word has been adopted in the English.
    • “-bald” comes from English (lack of hair)
    • pie-bald = varriagated and partly coloured like a magpie. This term is also used to describe white and black horses
  • Medical significance of piebaldism – partial albinism
  • It is a rare disorder of melanocyte development which is inherited in an autosomal dominant way.
  • Clinically one finds:
    • a triangular shaped depigmented patch on the forehead
    • a congenital white forelock
  • Indira Gandhi, a former Indian prime minister is a known case of piebaldism


Dr Christophe Hsu – dermatologist. Geneva, Switzerland

Source of information: Harms M. Dermatologica Helvetica (The Swiss Journal of Dermatology and Venereology: