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There’s a Little Zebra in All of Us

December 2, 2017

Nature has an interesting way of identifying animals in the wild. Lions have their manes, leopards have spots. Tigers and zebras have stripes. And apparently, so do people.

Blaschko Lines are common skin patterns that were first identified in 1901 by a German dermatologist named Alfred Blaschko. Over the course of years of examining thousands of patients, he often observed people who exhibited unusual patterns of stripes and swirls that encompassed their entire bodies. Some patterns were restricted to an arm or a leg. Other patients had stripes that ran from head to toe, beginning on their face, migrating to their chest and wrapping around their backs. He called them Blaschko Lines.

After a while, Blaschko noticed that virtually all of his patients that exhibited Blaschko Lines did so in very predictable manners. Looking like a pair of glasses that were painted on with ink, the lines began on the face, circling eyes and lips, then wrapping around the neck and the back of the head. They ran down both arms, legs and curved around his patients’ sides, much like tiger stripes. Interesting though, the lines never crossed the mid-section of his patients’ bodies. Instead, they met in artistic swirls, meandering in an “S” wave over the abdomen, an inverted “U” shape running from the breast to the upper arm, dipping down into a large “V,” before ending in the small of the back. After examining hundreds of patients with Blaschko Lines, he drew an initial, crude diagram of the patterns: read more

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