Werewolf syndrome is a rare and unusual genetic disorder that causes abnormal hair growth on the body. Here is a brief overview about the condition.
Werewolf syndrome is characterized by abnormal hair growth, which could be generalized (all over the body) or localized (confined to certain parts). This disorder, which is scientifically known as hypertrichosis, is also classified as congenital or acquired. While congenital hypertrichosis refers to the condition, where babies are born with abnormal hair growth; in acquired types, such hair growth develops later in life.
Types of Werewolf Syndrome
Congenital Types: Congenital hypertrichosis is categorized as hypertrichosis lanuginosa, generalized hypertrichosis, terminal hypertrichosis, localized hypertrichosis, nevoid hypertrichosis and circumscribed hypertrichosis.
- In case of congenital hypertrichosis lanuginosa, the newborn has lanugo hair all over the body, except the palms of hands and soles of feet. In normal infants, lanugo hair (fine, soft, light-colored hair, found mainly on the forehead, cheeks, shoulders and back) will be shed before birth or shortly after that.
- In case of congenital hypertrichosis lanuginosa, such hair growth may become restricted to some areas, as the babies grow. Hair thinning may also happen.
- Generalized hypertrichosis is characterized by excess facial and upper body hair in males, and an asymmetrical hair growth in females.
- Terminal hypertrichosis refers to the growth of highly pigmented terminal hair, all over the body. This is one of the noticeable types of werewolf syndrome.
- In localized hypertrichosis, hair growth is limited to certain areas only.
- Circumscribed hypertrichosis is the unusual hair growth of the upper extremities (shoulder, arms, elbow, wrist or fingers). Mostly, elbows are found to be involved in this type of werewolf syndrome, which is also known as hairy elbow syndrome.
- Another type is nevoid hypertrichosis, which features an excessive hair growth on an isolated area.
Acquired Types: While congenital werewolf syndrome appears at the time of birth itself, acquired ones develop later in life, due to various reasons. This type of werewolf syndrome is classified as acquired hypertrichosis lanuginosa, acquired generalized hypertrichosis, acquired patterned hypertrichosis, and acquired localized hypertrichosis.
- In case of acquired hypertrichosis lanuginosa, the affected person experiences rapid laguno hair growth on different parts, especially the face.
- Acquired generalized hypertrichosis refers to the unusual and abnormal hair growth on different parts of the body like, the cheeks, chin, upper lips, forearms, and legs. It has been observed that in this case of hypertrichosis, numerous hair develop from the same follicle.
- Another type is patterned hypertrichosis, wherein the rapid hair growth will be in some specific pattern.
- Localized hypertrichosis is again the abnormal hair growth restricted to certain areas only.
Symptoms and Treatment
Abnormal hair growth is the most common symptom of werewolf syndrome. However, some of the affected people may have teeth defects and enlarged gums. While most types of hypertrichosis are caused by genetic reasons, some types of acquired werewolf syndrome can be caused by cancer or as side effects of certain medication. Some forms of acquired hypertrichosis can be controlled with treatments, but there is no cure for congenital ones. So, various methods of hair removal, are tried for managing this condition. Congenital hypertrichosis is very rare, as compared to the acquired ones.
Only a few types of werewolf syndrome can be controlled with treatment; while others are managed with cosmetic hair removal. As this condition can be embarrassing for the affected people, understand their woes and treat them humanely.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.