What is hypertrichosis?
It is a mostly inherited predisposition that has no hormonal causes. Sometimes hair starts to grow on parts of the body that are actually hairless. Hypertrichosis can be localised or affect the whole body.
Hypertrichosis and hirsutism
Both terms are often mentioned in the same breath, but the causes of hirsutism in women and hypertrichosis (in women and men) are fundamentally different. Unlike hirsutism in women, hypertrichosis has no metabolic causes. It is therefore not a hormonal disorder or the result of hormonal overproduction. In many cases, hypertrichosis is an inherited condition, which is why it occurs more frequently in a family.
Causes of hypertrichosis
Hypertrichosis is usually caused by a genetic overproduction of hair. The hair is too thick, grows too densely and becomes too long. The line between a very hairy man and a person suffering from hypertrichosis is difficult to draw and is usually subject to aesthetic criteria.
Hypertrichosis affects both women and men. Men naturally have thicker and denser hair than women, so they do not suffer from hypertrichosis as much as women. However, excessive hair growth all over the body can also be distressing for men. Excessive hair growth, which falls under the term hypertrichosis, can be localised or can affect the entire body. Often the face is also affected by excessive hair growth.
A special case of hypertrichosis is the persistence of lanugo hair. The human foetus is covered with a fine, pigmentless woolly hair called lanugo hair. If the production of this hair continues after birth, with a transformation from lanugo hair to pigmented terminal hair taking place as the foetus grows up, we are looking at a human being who in medical history was called a “wolf man”. He suffers (in a double sense) from hypertrichosis. In addition to a hereditary cause, blood diseases and tumours as well as the side effects of certain medications can also favour the development of hypertrichosis.
Treatment of hypertrichosis
Excessive hair can be treated in several ways. Since the appearance of hypertrichosis is not a metabolic disorder, drug or hormonal treatment options are very limited. However, it is possible to reduce the conspicuousness of the unwanted hair by regular bleaching, shaving or epilation.
An interesting method is the medical-cosmetic procedure of laser technology. Here, the hair of a body region is removed by repeated treatments with a light energy flash that is precisely adjusted to the treatment success. The energy contained in the flash acts directly on the hair root and destroys it, resulting in permanent depilation of the treated body region.