Hypertrichosis is an overgrowth of hair which can happen in only one part of the body or all over the body. This kind of hair growth is over the limit while it may follow a limited pattern. The abnormal hair condition is a rare case which affects only a few people.
While Hypertrichosis might affect both men and women there is a type called Hirsutism, which is another hair condition found in women. It causes hair growth in areas where women usually don’t have much hair growth, like the chin and cheeks (1).
There are many different types of Hypertrichosis that affect both men and women. They can, however, be classified into three types
- Congenital – These are the cases that are caused due to genetics and are present at birth itself. Even under this, there are several different types:
- Hypertrichosis lanuginosa – This is seen in babies, a few of them might have soft fuzzy brown hair, called Lanugo. Usually, this will be shed before birth although sometimes they might be born with it and it will continue to grow at different spots on the baby’s body.
- Generalized hypertrichosis – This is seen in men and women all over the body and is not restricted to just one part of the body.
- Terminal hypertrichosis – This is when there is terminal hair, that is fully pigmented thick hair that grows all over the body.
- Circumscribed hypertrichosis – This a type that exists at birth and becomes more prominent as the person grows older. It’s’ the opposite of terminal hair and is yet thicker that lanugo. It’s restricted to certain parts of the body alone.
- Nevoid hypertrichosis – Terminal hair growth happens only in certain areas in the form of patches (2).
- Acquired – This is a type where hair growth rapidly increases after birth, this can be caused due to cancer, drugs, or other kinds of medication.
- Hirsutism – Is another type found in women, where women tend to follow male patter of hair growth, such as in the chin or chest regions.
What causes Hypertrichosis?
Most times it’s noticed that there is a genetic factor that plays a role in this. It could be hereditary and thus passed on from one member of the family to another. This is mainly caused due to some kind of genetic mutation that happens in the chromosomes.
In some cases, it can be caused due to medical conditions, such as cancer. For example, Acquired hypertrichosis lanuginosa is commonly seen as an effect of cancer. After a patient undergoes chemotherapy, they lose hair and when it grows back it could be in the form of brown fuzzy hair called lanugo. We’ve also seen in this in other conditions such as anorexia, thyroid problems, etc.
At other times it can be a side effect of some kind of medication. Antiepileptic medication, for example, is one kind that causes this.
If you see hair growing excessively in unusual parts in the form of vellus, terminal, or lanugo hair, then it could be a sign of this problem.
There is no cure for Hypertrichosis because most times it is caused due to genetic factors. Although, there are certain medications that could cause or trigger it and thus it’s better to stay away from steroids, or other drugs that increase the levels of sex hormones, which then moves on to excessive hair growth (3).
Temporary methods of hair removal such as waxing, shaving only is it’s in certain patches and isn’t excessively spread all over the body. However, these are not permanent solutions as hair could always grow back. Laser treatment can also help in certain cases.
What is generalized hypertrichosis?
It is when there is excessive hair growth all over the body.
What is local hypertrichosis?
It is when hair growth is limited to certain parts of the body.
What causes hypertrichosis?
It’s unclear as to what causes it, but genetics and certain medical conditions, as well as medications, have been seen to play a role.
How is hypertrichosis diagnosed?
It can be diagnosed when you can see vellus, terminal, or lanugo hair.
Can hypertrichosis be cured?
No, it cannot be cured.
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