- Hypertrichosis is a disorder that causes excessive hair growth in a localised or generalised form.
- The very first case of hypertrichosis was reported and documented in the 17th century in the Canary Islands.
- Laser hair removal can be an effective solution for hypertrichosis.
What Is Hypertrichosis?
Hypertrichosis refers to a dermatological condition that results in excessive hair growth anywhere on the body.
Dermatologists may classify the condition in the following categories:
- Congenital (from birth) or acquired
- Localised or Generalised and
- Depending on the type of hair, i.e. lanugo, vellus or terminal hair
The most visible symptom of hypertrichosis is the presence of hair in higher amounts than average. This hair can be either lanugo (soft, unpigmented hair that is generally visible in newborns during the first few days of life) or vellus (thin and fine hair) or terminal hair the thick hair that appears on legs).
The excessive growth of hair can occur all over the body or in small, isolated patches. This rare condition can affect both men and women equally. It can manifest at birth or develop at a later stage in life.
Types & Classification
The causes of hypertrichosis are not clear yet. However, dermatologists generally classify hypertrichosis into congenital and acquired. Here are the significant differences between the two types of hypertrichosis:
This type of hypertrichosis occurs from birth, forming a part of many syndromes or hereditary diseases where other features like enlarged gums and facial dysmorphism may be present.
It can also be the only feature in many individuals with no other associated health issues, but a positive family history of excessive hairiness.
Congenital hypertrichosis can occur either in a generalised or localised form.
- Generalised Hypertrichosis: It is a rare entity with many possible underlying causes. Congenital generalised hypertrichosis can form a part of many syndromes. Ambras syndrome, Cantu syndrome and Cornelia de Lange syndrome are a few of these syndromes associated not only with the excessive hair growth but also with other features.
There are disorders such as congenital hypertrichosis lanuginosa and universal hypertrichosis where excessive hair growth is the only feature. Sometimes, intrauterine exposure to medications like hydantoin and alcohol can also cause this.
- Localised Hypertrichosis: As the condition may be a part of an underlying abnormality of the vertebrae and spinal cord. It can appear along with birthmarks like congenital melanocytic nevus or Becker’s nevus.
An individual having the condition does not have excessive hair growth at birth but develops it later in life. It can be generalised or localised. Acquired hypertrichosis can occur as a result of chronic medical conditions like cancers or thyroid disorders or anorexia nervosa. It may also occur due to constant irritation of the skin (rubbing) after the use of a plaster cast for fracture or topical medications like steroids or minoxidil. It can also develop as a part of diseases like Dermatomyositis (over the knees).
Is There A Difference Between Hirsutism And Hypertrichosis?
Check out the critical differences between the two dermatological concerns:
- Hirsutism, which is only hormonally induced (by androgens), only affects women, while hypertrichosis affects both men and women.
- In hirsutism, the body hair is coarse and terminal with a classic male hair-growth distribution pattern. With hypertrichosis, the hair can be thick or thin and can cover the entire body.
Dermatologists diagnose hypertrichosis with a detailed physical examination of the excess hair growth while taking into consideration other factors such as the individual’s age, sex, ethnicity and his or her androgen sensitivity.
During a clinical consultation, a dermatologist may record information related to your medical and family history, lifestyle habits and recent medicinal intake for an accurate conclusion.
Are You At Risk?
You are likely to have hypertrichosis if you come under the following high-risk groups:
- If you suffer from excessive hair growth that affects the entire body.
- If you are on medication that may trigger hypertrichosis.
- If you were using steroids, oral or topical without supervision.
- If you have a habit of rubbing your skin.
- If you have health issues like Porphyria Cutanea Tarda.
Prevention & Management:
Prevent acquired hypertrichosis by following the below tips:
- Avoid the use of medications that can trigger the condition.
- Strictly use prescription drugs under supervision.
You cannot prevent congenital hypertrichosis. However, you can manage it temporarily with:
- Depilatory creams
Self-care with the use of conventional hair removal methods mentioned above can bring only short-term relief. With a condition like hypertrichosis, these remedies do not stop hair from growing back. Opt for a permanent solution by seeking appropriate medical assistance.
Treatment Options Available At Oliva Clinic:
Oliva Clinic offers laser hair removal for managing hypertrichosis. Our qualified dermatologists may use the following laser technologies for delivering the best results:
- Nd: YAG
- Super hair reduction (AFT)