Table of contents:
- How to identify hypertrichosis
- How to confirm the diagnosis
- What causes hypertrichosis
- How to control the amount of hair
Hypertrichosis, also popularly known as werewolf syndrome, is an extremely rare condition in which there is excessive hair growth anywhere on the body, which can happen in both men and women. This exaggerated hair growth can even end up covering the face, which ultimately contributes to the name "werewolf syndrome".
Depending on the cause, symptoms may appear as early as childhood, when the syndrome is caused by a genetic alteration, but it can also appear only in adults, due to alterations such as malnutrition, cancer or the use of some types of medication..
There is still no cure for hypertrichosis that can prevent hair growth, so it is common for people to resort to techniques, such as waxing or gillette, to try to temporarily reduce the amount of hair and improve aesthetics, especially in the face region.
How to identify hypertrichosis
Hypertrichosis is characterized by excessive hair growth on the body, however, there are three main types of hair that can develop:
- Vellum hair: this is a type of short hair that usually appears in places such as the soles of the feet, ears, lips or palms of the hands;
- Lanugo hair: it is characterized by a very fine, soft and, generally, colorless hair. This type of hair is common in the first days of a newborn's life, disappearing. However, babies who suffer from hypertrichosis have this hair permanently;
- Terminal hair: it is a type of long, thick and very dark hair, similar to the hair on the head. This type of hair is more common on the face, armpits and groin.
Different cases of hypertrichosis can have different types of hair, and it is not necessary for everyone to have all types.
In addition to excessive hair growth, in some people with hypertrichosis, gum problems and even missing teeth are relatively common.
How to confirm the diagnosis
Usually the diagnosis of hypertrichosis is made clinically, that is, through observation of symptoms and medical evaluation of the person's entire history. In the case of the child or baby, this diagnosis can be made by the pediatrician. In adults, however, it is common for the diagnosis to be made by a dermatologist or by a general practitioner.
What causes hypertrichosis
The specific cause for the appearance of this condition is not yet known, however, it is possible to observe several cases of hypertrichosis in members of the same family.Therefore, it is considered that hypertrichosis can be caused by a genetic mutation that is passed from generation to generation within the same family, and that activates the compressed hair gene, which has been deactivated throughout evolution.
However, and as there are cases of people who only present hypertrichosis during adulthood, there are also other factors that have been indicated as being able to cause the condition, namely cases of extreme malnutrition, prolonged use of medication, especially androgenic steroids, as well as cases of cancer or skin diseases such as porphyria cutanea tarda.
How to control the amount of hair
Since there is no form of treatment capable of curing hypertrichosis, hair removal is usually used to improve body aesthetics and try to reduce the amount of hair. Some of the most commonly used techniques include:
- Wax: removes hair from the root allowing its growth to be slower, however, it is more painful and cannot be used on the face and other more sensitive places;
- Gillette: does not cause pain as the hair is cut close to the root with a blade, but the hair grows back more quickly
- Chemicals: is similar to gillette hair removal, but it is done with a cream that dissolves the hair, eliminating them.
- Laser: in addition to almost permanently eliminating hair, it reduces scars and skin irritations that can arise with other methods.
Due to excessive use of hair removal, some skin problems can arise, such as scars, dermatitis or hypersensitivity reactions, so the dermatologist can be useful to guide the best treatment to reduce hair growth.