What is Hypertrichosis?
Hypertrichosis is an unusual pathological condition, in which there is excessive growth of hairs in areas where usually there is no hair growth. This condition is also called as Werewolf Syndrome. Hypertrichosis can affect both males and females equally, although this condition is extremely rare in the United States. An individual affected with Hypertrichosis will have different types of hair, which may be too dense or may be too long.
Hypertrichosis can affect any individual irrespective of the age, gender, or nationality. In the ancient times, people with Hypertrichosis were used in circuses and other places for entertaining people. These people were promoted as animals in circuses despite having nothing common with any animal and just suffering from an unusual condition called Hypertrichosis.
What is the Classification of Hypertrichosis?
There are basically two types of Hypertrichosis, which are generalized and localized.
Generalized Hypertrichosis: This is a condition in which there is excessive hair growth throughout the body including the upper body and facial areas.
Localized Hypertrichosis: In this condition, there is a growth of excessive hair localized to a particular area.
There are also two classes of hypertrichosis, which are acquired and congenital. Acquired Hypertrichosis occurs after birth whereas Congenital Hypertrichosis occurs at the time of birth due to some congenital abnormality and is a rare occurrence.
What Causes Hypertrichosis?
There is no known cause of Hypertrichosis. Some studies suggest a genetic link to the development of Hypertrichosis, but this claim has not been substantiated with proof. In some cases, there have been occurrences of Hypertrichosis after cancer. The acute form of Hypertrichosis develops after birth and can be caused due to a variety of reasons ranging from cancer to eating disorder to even side effect of certain medications. This is the most common form of Hypertrichosis. Congenital Hypertrichosis occurs due to a genetic defect and the condition is present at the time of birth.
If an individual has a family history of Hypertrichosis, then he or she may have an offspring with Congenital Hypertrichosis. One of the causes stated for Hypertrichosis is at the time of development of the fetus, it is covered by a small layer of hair called lanugo, which falls off by the end of pregnancy but in some cases these hairs do not fall off, but continue to grow resulting in development of Hypertrichosis.
What are the Symptoms of Hypertrichosis?
The only symptom of Hypertrichosis is excessive growth of hair in areas where normally there are no hairs present such as the face, cheeks, forehead, sides of the nose, and the like. In acquired cases of Hypertrichosis, the individual will have excessive hair centered on one area of the body meaning that the excessive hair growth is localized. In some cases there may be tooth defects also due to Hypertrichosis.
An individual with Hypertrichosis will basically have three types of hair that will grow. The first type is called the Vellus, which is very fine and light colored. It is barely noticeable and will be present throughout the body from childhood, except for the genital areas, soles of the feet, or in the lips. The second type of hair found in Hypertrichosis is terminal hair, which is long, dark and extremely thick. The third type of hair found is the lanugo, which is present before birth but does not fall off on its own after delivery. They are very small and minute and are barely noticeable. In most of the cases, lanugo hairs fall off within a few days.
How is Hypertrichosis Treated?
Hypertrichosis is a benign condition and so treatment is not required. Some people decide to leave the condition as is, but some people for apparent cosmetic reasons require treatment for this condition. There are a variety of treatments available for treating Hypertrichosis. Shaving is the best way to get rid of the excessive additional hairs, but this is only helpful for short term as the hairs tend to grow back in a few days.
There are certain bleaching products available, which can be used to make the hairs less apparent but caution needs to be maintained to make sure that the individual does not have any reaction to it. For permanent solution, laser therapy is the most preferred way to get rid of Hypertrichosis. This therapy will permanently remove the excessive and unnecessary hairs from the body, but these types of treatments are extremely costly and quite painful. If laser surgery is chosen then the laser will not only destroy the hair, but also the root and the follicles thus removing the hair permanently caused due to Hypertrichosis.