Hypertrichosis (Werewolf Syndrome) - Types, Causes And Treatments

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Hypertrichosis – Types, Symptoms, Causes And Treatments

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Hypertrichosis is a rare condition characterised by abnormal hair growth anywhere in your body. It is often called as the werewolf syndrome and affects both women and men equally (though it is rare). This condition often shows it appearances during birth and has the capability to develop over time. This condition is the root of all embarrassing situations that you put up with on a day to day basis. But, is there a solution to this problem? Read on.

Types Of Hypertrichosis

The following are the types of hypertrichosis –

  • Congenital Hypertrichosis Lanuginose It is a condition which usually appears as fine lanugo (fine, baby hair) after the birth of a baby but then fails to disappear. In fact, this soft, fine hair continues to spread and grow on various other places of the baby’s body.
  • Congenital Hypertrichosis Terminalis –This is a condition wherein you would notice abnormal hair growth right from childbirth, and this hair growth becomes consistently exponential with age with long and thick hair covering the face and body as you grow older.
  • Nevoid Hypertrichosis –This condition is confined to defined areas and has excessive hair growth in patches (more than one).
  • Hirsutism –This condition affects women only and results in dark and thick hair growing in places where women don’t generally have hair growth such as the face, chest, and back.
  • Acquired Hypertrichosis – Unlike congenital hypertrichosis, you will not be able to spot the symptoms of this condition right from childhood, as it tends to catch up with you later in life and is more like an acquired disease. It results in two types of hair – vellus hair or terminal hair respectively, wherein you may notice abnormal hair growth either in patches or on all areas of the body.

Also Read: How To Treat Hypertrichosis?

What Causes Hypertrichosis?

Causes of hypertrichosis aren’t understood well, although it may be possible that some of these conditions are hereditary and run in the family. Sometimes, this condition is a result of reactivation of the genes that are responsible for excessive hair growth. Acquired hypertrichosis is known to have several origins, which include –

  • Porphyria cutanea tarda, a condition that makes your skin develop a sensitivity to light.
  • Malnutrition
  • Diet or an eating disorder (anorexia nervosa)
  • Cancer
  • Certain drugs, such as androgenic steroids, the hair-growth drug minoxidil, and cyclosporine

Hypertrichosis occurring in specific places on your body can typically originate from –

  • Lichen simplex, which is a chronic skin condition that causes itchiness and scratchiness over a patch of skin.
  • Temporary use of a plaster cast
  • Increased vascularity – a bodybuilding strategy that helps in developing prominent blood vessels near the surface of the skin

Symptoms Of Hypertrichosis

It is easy to spot someone with hypertrichosis as it usually produces one of three types of hair –

  • Vellus – The follicles for these kinds of hair are typically less than 1/13th of an inch. They are usually short (less than 1/13th of an inch long). They can be pigmented or non-pigmented.
  • Lanugo – This kind of hair is soft and fine, like the one that is found on a newborn baby’s body. Although most babies lose their lanugo after a few days of their birth, due to hypertrichosis, the lanugo hair spread and grow all over the baby’s body, unless treated.
  • Terminal – The kind of hair is usually very long, thick, and dark.

Another symptom, though not a major one, is that you are likely to have problems with your gums or teeth, with some teeth being missing or the gum being unusually swollen.

Also Read: How To Deal With PCOS And Excessive Hair Growth?

Hypertrichosis Treatment

There is no proven cure for this condition so far, and there is only little that you can do to prevent the congenital form of the disease. But, you sure can lower the risk of certainly acquired hypertrichosis by using medications, such as minoxidil. Other short-term methods include:

  • Shaving
  • Chemical epilation
  • Waxing
  • Plucking
  • Hair bleaching

It is important to understand that all of the above-mentioned solutions are temporary and can also cause discomfort to your skin. For long-term treatments, you can try laser that uses a special light over several hair strands consecutively and can yield permanent results in hair reduction after a couple of sessions.

Hypertrichosis Vs. Hirsutism

Hypertrichosis is not gender-biased and showcases abnormal hair growth irrespective of the age, sex, and race of a person, meanwhile hirsutism, on the other hand, is a case that applies to women only, in which you may observe excessive hair growth in women that follows a male distribution pattern.

 

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About The Author

Kushneet Kukreja

Kushneet Kukreja

A postgraduate in Biotechnology from Kingston University and an ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition, Kushneet Kukreja is a passionate writer who works in close association with the dermatologists at our head office to generate valuable and scientifically accurate content for our blog.


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