Hair is the defining characteristic of a race. People with different race, age, gender and ethnicity have different types of hair. A type of hair normal for one race or ethnicity may be abnormal for the other. Hypertrichosis is a rare hair disorder in which there is abnormal hair growth.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HYPERTRICHOSIS AND HIRSUTISM
What is hypertrichosis?
Hypertrichosis is defined as a clinical condition which is characterized by excessive hair growth on almost all the body parts but sparing the palms and the soles. There is both excessive hair length and density in this condition.
What are the other names of hypertrichosis?
Multiple names have been given to this rare clinical condition which are;
u Adam's syndrome
u Werewolf's syndrome
When was the first case diagnosed?
In 17th century Atrovandus documented that the Gonzales' family is suffering from hypertrichosis. In the next three hundred years almost fifty more cases of hypertrichosis were diagnosed.
How do we classify hypertrichosis?
Hypertrichosis is classified by two systems of classifications;
u Generalized and localized
u Congenital and acquired
Congenital Hypertrichosis - it is the type of hypertrichosis that is present at birth and occurs due to gentic mutations. Here are the few types of congenital hypertrichosis;
u Hypertrichosis lanuginosa
Acquired Hypertrichosis - it is the type of hypertrichosis that is not usually present at birth. Common causes of acquired hypertrichosis are side effects of medication, carcinomas and psychiatric eating disorders like anorexia nervosa.
u Generalized - oral minoxidil (a vasodilator) is known to cause this condition.
u Patterned - may be an indication of internal malignancy
u Local - may be due to repetitive trauma and irritation.
u Lanuginosa - may be due to malignancy.
What is the epidemiology of this disease?
Congenital hypertrichosis is very rare as compared to acquired forms of hypertrichosis. Almost 100 cases of congenital generalzed hypertrichosis have been recorded and published so far. However, a large number of cases of acquired hypertrichosis (especially due to minoxidil) have been diagnosed.
What other conditions are associated with hypertrichosis?
The most common condition associated with hypertrichosis is gingival hyperplasia (swelling of the gums). It was first noticed by Rudolf Virchow, a renowned scientist.
How does hypertrichosis present clinically?
The most important feature is excessive hair all over the body. The hairs are comparatively long than normal and they can be of any type like lanugo, vellus or terminal.
How to diagnose hypertrichosis?
Diagnosis is completely based on the clinical picture of excessive hair. No specific investigation is required.
How to treat hypertrichosis?
Congenital hypertrichosis has no definitive cure. However, acquired hypertrichosis can be cured. The primary treatment of acquired hypertrichosis depends on treating the cause.
Hair removal is another option for treatment of both the congenital or acquired hypertrichosis. Hair removal can both be temporary and permanent. Temporary hair removal lasts from hours to weeks. Common methods employed for temporary hair removal are trimming, shaving, plucking and waxing.
Permanent hair removal can be done with the help of chemicals, laser and electrolysis. Laser is the most effective method for permanent hair removal.
What is the difference between hypertrichosis and hirsutism?
Hypertrichosis is usually confused with a related hair disorder named as 'hirsutism'. Hirsutism is a clinical disorder characterized by excessive male hair growth pattern. In these cases the hair growth is predominantly in androgen sensitive areas. Commonly women and children are affected.
Harrison's principles of internal medicine 18th edition