Hypertrichosis (werewolf syndrome): understand what it is

In the 19th century, shows called “freak shows” were common , in which people born with physical disabilities were recruited as part of entertainment.

This was one of the options for those people who had no way of surviving and worked in this way to earn a living.

One of the most emblematic cases was the young man known as “JoJo, the boy with the face of a dog” , who had excess hair and hair, referring to the appearance of a dog.

It was discovered by science that this boy suffered from the disease called hypertrichosis and, over the years, other cases of this rare disease appeared.

One of them in Brazil, in 2014, with the little Kemilly de Souza, of 3 years, who was born with the body 100% covered with hair.

Find out more details about this disease and how it acts on our body:

What is hypertrichosis or werewolf syndrome?

Hypertrichosis is a disease of genetic origin, in which genes pass from parent to child. It is characterized as an exaggerated growth of hair and hair on the body, regardless of age, race and sex.

This condition is popularly known as “Werewolf syndrome”, due to the large amount of hair that the person ends up possessing. It is a rare condition and few cases have been reported in the world.

In the vast majority of cases, hypertrichosis is a disease that appears associated with another condition. Therefore, attention is needed to note some signs that may indicate other diseases such as hormonal disorders, skin infections and allergies, malnutrition, anorexia nervosa, among others.

There are 5 types to classify hypertrichosis, they are: congenital lanuginous hypertrichosis, in which it has the subtype called Abras syndrome, congenital terminal hypertrichosis, acquired hypertrichosis, nevoid hypertrichosis and auricular hypertrichosis.

Hypertrichosis can be easily confused with another disease, in this case Hirsutism. But they only have one of the symptoms in common, which is the growth of excess hair.

Hirsutism occurs due to hormonal dysfunctions, while hypertrichosis involves genes passed from parent to child.

To identify hypertrichosis it is necessary to analyze the type of hair or hair present in the patient, and there are 3 types of hair: lanugo, vellus and terminal.

The professional indicated to make the diagnosis is the dermatologist.

Unfortunately there is no cure for this disease, but there are different treatment options.

After analyzing the case, the dermatologist will be able to indicate the best treatment for the patient, the options are: hot wax, laser hair removal, use of razors, creams and shavers, lasers for tattoo removal and also psychological therapy.

Because it is a rare disease, people often find it strange when they see someone with hypertrichosis, which can be bad for the patient, who can be taxed and become the reason for malicious jokes due to the distinctive appearance, so therapy is necessary to help in the emotional field and the patient’s sociability.

In the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Health-Related Problems (ICD 10), the disease can be found using the codes:

  • L68 – Hypertricose;
  • L68.1 – Acquired lanuginous hypertrichosis;
  • L68.2 – Localized hypertrichosis;
  • L68.8 – Other forms of hypertrichosis;
  • L68.9 – Hypertrichosis, unspecified.

Aspects and types of hair and hair

Depending on the length, color and appearance (thick, thin), the hairs and hairs are classified as:

Lanugo

The lanugo hairs and hairs have a fine appearance, without much pigment and that resemble down. They cover the baby’s entire body during intrauterine life and, as delivery approaches, they fall naturally.

In some cases, the baby is still born with these hairs, but they tend to fall out in a few days.

fleece

The vellus type is characterized by slightly pigmented, short and soft-looking hair. They can appear on various parts of the body, except on the soles of the feet and palms.

Terminal

This type of hair and hair is the darkest of the other two, and usually the hair is thick and long.

In people who do not have hypertrichosis, it is normal for it to grow in the armpits, groin and points of the face such as the eyebrows. But in patients with this condition, the wires can develop on the face as a whole, on the back, arms and breasts.

What are the types of hypertrichosis?

Hypertrichosis can be classified into 6 types that have different characteristics, they are:

Congenital hypertrichosis lanuginosa

This type is characterized by the growth of fine hair, called lanugo. These threads cover the baby’s body until the final stretch of pregnancy. Then they fall.

Some babies, when they are born, still have a lot of lanugo hair, but they are gradually reduced.

However, in hypertrichosis, the threads remain and it is not only in the head, but also in different areas of the body throughout the patient’s life.

Abras syndrome

Abras syndrome is a type of hypertrichosis in which the hair or hair is thicker, has more accentuated coloring and can grow throughout the patient’s life, and can affect the entire body, including the face.

Congenital terminal hypertrichosis

In this case, instead of the lanugo hair being born in the baby, what occurs is the birth of terminal hairs that are more pigmented and thicker. These hairs, which are actually hair, grow throughout life and can reach the face.

Although quite similar to Abras’ syndrome, in general, congenital terminal hypertrichosis, in addition to the excessive growth of hair, can manifest physical changes, such as irregular growth of gums and formation of the bony structure of the face.

Acquired hypertrichosis

It can develop over the years, being caused by secondary conditions, such as anorexia nervosa or metabolic problems.

It has the same pattern as the congenital type lanuginosa, in which the strands are born thin. But in this case, the hairs appear in the form of small spots all over the body.

Nevoidal hypertrichosis

The growth of hair, in this case can appear in any area of ​​the body, but with tendencies to be located (centralized points of hair in any region of the body).

In some cases, it manifests on the eyebrows, being able to create an excess of hair or unite the two, forming what is popularly called a monocelha.

Hypertricose atrial

This type of hypertrichosis is characterized by the appearance of hair, only on the ears, in excessive sizes. The condition is passed from father to son through the male Y chromosome, so it does not occur in women.

The edges of the ears are full of small hairs, which protect the auricular entrance. However, in patients with hypertrichosis, these hairs are long and in excessive volume.

What is the difference between hypertrichosis and hirsutism?

The difference is that hypertrichosis is the excess of hair on any part of the body, which can occur in both sexes. Hirsutism, on the other hand, is characterized by the appearance of hair in women, located in typically male regions, such as fluff, ears, face and chest.

Hirsutism can be caused by hormonal changes, infertility, menstrual irregularity, among other causes, unlike hypertrichosis, which has a genetic origin.

Hypertrichosis in pregnancy

Hypertrichosis is a disease that occurs due to genetic inheritance and can be diagnosed soon after the patient is born. But during the pregnancy period, the pregnant woman may experience an isolated case of hypertrichosis.

Due to hormonal changes, resulting from the period, excessive growth of hair, hair and also on the pregnant woman’s nails can occur.

In general, after childbirth, hormone rates normalize and excessive hair stops growing.

What causes hypertrichosis?

Hypertrichosis occurs due to the fact that it is a genetic inheritance in families, those responsible for the genes that stimulate hair growth and beyond the normal. This disease is associated with a mutation in the gene, still an unknown factor.

Genetics

When there is a case of hypertrichosis, attention is usually needed, as children and grandchildren are at risk of having the disease.

Having an affair in the family increases the chances of the condition occurring in a close relative by up to 50%.

But some cases may have no direct (or at least observable) hereditary relationship.

For example: the father has hypertrichosis, he has a son, but the son is born without the change.

Symptoms

The main symptom of the presence of hypertrichosis is excessive hair and hair growth.

Some studies have observed that, possibly, there are cases in which bone and anatomical changes may be affected. But they are even rarer.

In general, this condition has no other symptoms or signs, besides the possible psychological damage that it can also cause in the patient.

Therefore, it is the psychological factor most affected, which can generate low self-esteem , social isolation and difficulties in living together.

Diagnosis

The diagnosis of hypertrichosis can be made by eye, by a dermatologist. The appearance of those who have hypertrichosis is typical and leaves no doubt in making the diagnosis.

The most complicated part is determining the causes, so the specialist can still order tests to analyze if there are other abnormalities.

The professional indicated for the diagnosis and treatment of hypertrichosis is the dermatologist . Other professionals may be included in the monitoring, depending on the identification of conditions or associated diseases (for example, in cases of acquired hypertrichosis).

In some cases, blood tests, echocardiography , magnetic resonance imaging may be required to exclude or detect other conditions.

Can hypertrichosis be cured?

Unfortunately, hypertrichosis has no cure . Many studies are being carried out to change this situation, but so far there is no cure for this condition.

However, when it is of the acquired type, the condition is reversed if the appropriate treatments for the cause of the hypertrichosis are carried out.

Is hypertrichosis transmissible?

Hypertrichosis is not transmissible, it is an anomaly of the genetic inheritance type, transmitted to people of the same family due to the gene. But it is not transmissible by touch, contact, etc.

What is the treatment?

Hypertrichosis treatments consist of maintaining the patient’s hair and hair growth.

The method of hair removal to be chosen will depend on the characteristics of the wires, the area of ​​the body in which they are present and the number of them. In addition to hair removal, treatments related to the emotional state can be included:

Hot wax

Hot wax is one of the most common procedures performed in the world of beauty. The wax pulls the wire from the root and, therefore, causes the growth to be slower compared to blades, for example.

There are options that use the hot or cold product, but they act in the same way.

The ideal is always to follow the dermatological guidance to evaluate which options generate less aggression to the skin.

Laser hair removal

Laser hair removal uses light, which, when in contact with the hair, produces an energy that slows down its growth, in addition to preventing new hair from growing.

Currently, there are different types of lasers that can be used in various places, from the face to the arms, such as alexandrite laser, soprano XL, among others.

The frequency of use and the type chosen should always be guided by the professional who accompanies the patient.

Blades, creams and shavers

Among the fastest options are razors, depilatory creams and shavers. These products act by “cutting” the hair / hair, but do not eliminate its root as in laser hair removal, so the growth ends up being faster.

Read more: Skin Hydration: importance, how to moisturize, products and tips

Laser for tattoo removal

The laser called Nd: YAG is specific for use in tattoo removal, but it also works for hair removal. Presenting good results for being able to penetrate the skin and eliminate the hair from the root, it can be used from fine to coarse hair.

Psychological therapy

Hypertrichosis ends up affecting the appearance a lot, so it can affect the emotional, causing social isolation, depression and even problems of self-esteem. It is important to undergo treatment with a psychologist, in order to manage these situations in a positive way.

The ideal is to seek professional monitoring with psychologists and therapists, in addition to combining other activities that can be complementary to emotional health, such as physical activities, yoga, meditation, among others.

Living together

Unfortunately hypertrichosis has no cure, but you can live with this condition and have a good quality of life with some care:

Seek help and support groups

Hypertrichosis is a condition that can interfere with appearance, influencing self-esteem.

Because it is a rare type of disease, it is difficult to find people diagnosed with the same case. But it is possible to seek help from psychological support groups, which can work better with living with the disease and also create friendships.

Use moisturizing creams

After performing epilation, our skin can become more sensitive, so the ideal is to use creams that can hydrate it and ensure that it remains healthy and soft. Consult your dermatologist so that he can indicate which type of cream is best depending on your skin type.

Read more: Benefits of coconut oil for hair, skin and how to do it at home

Prefer lighter fabric clothes

Give preference to wearing clothes that have a lighter fabric, to reduce friction with the skin (which may be more sensitive due to hair removal).

In addition, natural and less tight fabrics help with perspiration and provide more comfort in general.

The most suitable fabrics are cotton, silk, linen, viscose and viscolycra.

Surround yourself with good people

The support of family and friends is something important and valuable, especially when we go through situations that tend to let us down. So always try to be in contact with your family and friends by doing activities together and them.

How to prevent hypertrichosis?

As hypertrichosis, in general, is characterized as an anomaly of genetic inheritance, there are no ways to prevent this condition.

Some cases may be due to other diseases or use of medications. For this reason, it is important to be attentive to the instructions for the medication, to the correct treatment and medical follow-up, in addition to seeking help and information from the medical professional.

Common questions

Is there a remedy for hypertrichosis?

Unfortunately not, but there are different types of treatment for removing excess hair. The dermatologist is the professional to determine which treatment to follow, after analyzing each case.

Can Minoxidil cause hypertrichosis?

Yes, one of the side effects of using this medication is the unwanted growth of hair and hair on other parts of the body. This can occur because Minoxidil is a medication used to help in cases of baldness, stimulating growth.

Can hypertrichosis be related to hormonal changes?

It depends on the case. The acquired type may be related to hormonal changes, but all other types of hypertrichosis have a genetic origin.


Hypertrichosis is a disease of genetic inheritance, therefore it is not transmissible and does not pose any danger to those who live with the patient. Unfortunately the disease has no cure yet, but it can be treated.

Share and disseminate this information so that more people know about the disease.

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