Producer of “Werewolf Human” – Hypertrichosis

Bulbul Ahmed

We all know about X-MEN, a very popular Marvel Comics and also a movie series. There is a superhero named Henry Philip (known as Hank; The Beast) who has lots of fur on his face and all the body skin. At the extensive level, hypertrichosis patient becomes similar looking to that superhero but the sad news is that patient doesn’t have any super natural power.

Hypertrichosis is often mistakenly classified as hirsutism. Hirsutism is just a male type hair growth in the female. It can be caused by Increased production of androgens and androstenedione or the increased sensitivity of the skin to them. But hypertrichosis is excessive body hair growth at appropriate sites compared to other persons of the same sex, age, and ethnicity. Not androgen-related. Extensive cases of hypertrichosis have informally been called werewolf syndrome. There are mainly two types of hypertrichosis: Congenital and Acquired. But classification can also be based on the age of onset and site of growth.

Congenital hyperchosis is always present when birth but it is rare. It is generally caused by genetic mutation. But acquired hypertrichosis appears after birth. The multiple causes include the side effects of drugs, associations with cancer, and possible links with eating disorders. There are several types of congenital hyperchosis. In congenital lanuginose hyperchosis infant completely covered with a thin lanugo hair and remains after birth but palms of the hands, soles of the feet, and mucous membranes are not affected. Acquired lanuginose hyperchosis characterized by rapid growth of lanugo hair. Palms and soles are unaffected. The excess hair is commonly referred to as malignant down.This hair is very fine and unpigmented. In Congenital generalized hypertrichosis, hair growth is more prominent on the face, ears, and shoulders. The palms, soles, and mucous membranes are not affected. Acquired generalized hypertrichosis commonly affects the cheeks, upper lip, and chin and rarely affects the forearms and legs. It is mostly vellus hair and rarely lanugo. In terminal hypertrichosis, terminal hair covers the entire body. It also causes gingival hyperplasia. Gingival hyperplasia is an increase in the size of the gingiva or gums. This hypertrichosis is most responsible for “werewolf syndrome” for its thick, dark hair. Nevoid hypertrichosis may be present at birth or appear later. In few cases, more than one patch of hair is present.

The cause of hypertrichosis is unknown. Congenital hypertrichosis is believed to be a genetic disorder that is inherited or occurs as a result of spontaneous mutation. It also caused by reactivation of genes that cause hair growth. The genes which caused extensive hair growth in early man have “shut down” during the course of evolution. By a mistake that still has no known cause, these hair-growth genes “turn on” while a baby is still in the womb.

Acquired hypertrichosis lanuginosa sometimes occurs in people who at a later stage are diagnosed with a cancer of some form. This hair growth, also known as malignant down, is often confined to the face with long fine silky hair noticeable on the nose and eyelids, sites that are normally hairless. It is not known why cancer causes this excessive hair growth.

Treatment options are limited and depend on the patient characteristics and area and amount of hair growth. Some short term treatments that can be used is applying shaving but the hair will grow back, unfortunately. The currently available treatment methods include cosmetic procedures (bleaching, trimming, shaving, plucking, waxing, chemical depilatories, and electrosurgical epilation), and hair removal using light sources and lasers.Laser-assisted hair removal is the most efficient method of long-term hair removal currently available. A novel treatment for slowing excessive hair growth is topical eflornithine, an inhibitor of the enzyme ornithine decarboxylase present in hair follicles that are important in hair growth.

Although this disease rarely occurs in our country, the patient must be neglected by various ways in social. The main thing which is needed to the patient is self-satisfaction.   

Bulbul Ahmed is an undergrad student of Department of Pharmacy East West University, Dhaka, Bangladesh. He can be reached at i.bulbulahmed99@gmail.com

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