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HYPERTRICHOSIS

Introduction:

Hypertrichosis is an abnormal amount of hair growth over the body. The two distinct types of hypertrichosis are generalized hypertrichosis, which occurs over the entire body, and localized hypertrichosis, which is restricted to a certain area. Hypertrichosis can be either congenital (present at birth) or acquired later in life. The excess growth of hair occurs in areas of the skin with the exception of androgen-dependent hair of the pubic area, face, and axillary regions.

Signs and Symptoms:


The primary characteristic of all forms of hypertrichosis is excessive hair. Hair in hypertrichosis is usually longer than expected and may consist of any hair type (lanugo, vellus, or terminal). Patterned forms of hypertrichosis cause hair growth in patterns. Generalized forms of hypertrichosis result in hair growth over the entire body. Circumscribed and localized forms lead to hair growth restricted to a certain area.



Pathogenesis:


A number of mechanisms can lead to hypertrichosis. One cause involves areas of the skin that are transforming from the small vellus type to the larger terminal type. This change normally occurs during adolescence, when vellus hair follicles in the underarms and groin grow into terminal hair follicles. Hypertrichosis involves this same type of switching, but in areas that do not normally produce terminal hair. The mechanisms for this switch are poorly understood.


Genetic, Medical Conditions and Medications have been shown to play a role in the development.



Epidemiology:


Congenital forms of hypertrichosis are rare. Only 50 cases of congenital hypertrichosis lanuginosa have been recorded since the Middle Ages, and fewer than 100 cases of congenital generalized hypertrichosis have been documented in scientific publications and by the media. Congenital generalized hypertrichosis is isolated to one family in Mexico. Acquired hypertrichosis and hirsutism are more common. For example, hirsutism occurs in about 10% of women between ages 18 and 45.

Treatment:

All hypertrichosis, congenital or acquired, can be reduced through hair removal. Hair removal treatments are categorized into two principal subdivisions: temporary removal and permanent removal. Treatment may have adverse effects by causing scarring, dermatitis, or hypersensitivity.


Top UK Dermatologists Online Consultation
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypertrichosis

For more information on this topic please click on the links below

Link to British Association of Dermatologists article on dermatology from DermUK
Link to DermNet NZ article on dermatology from DermUK
Link to Medscape dermatology article from DermUK
Link to NICE clinical knowledge summary on dermatology from DermUK

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