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What Causes Excessive Growth of Hair on the Body?

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Hypertrichosis: Symptoms and causes

What is hypertrichosis?

Hypertrichosis is the excessive growth of hair, which is abnormal given for the person’s age, sex, body area or race. This is different from Hirsutism in which women experience hair growth in areas that generally fall under the male pattern of hair distribution.

The commonest symptom of hypertrichosis is the development of excess hair in small isolated patches (localised hypertrichosis) or all over the body (generalised hypertrichosis). Some with this disorder may exhibit enlarged gums and defects of the teeth as well.

Types of hypertrichosis

Hypertrichosis may be congenital (present during birth) or acquired.

  1. Congenital hypertrichosis is generally caused by genetic mutations. It may affect men and women differently, and may even impact the whole body, covering one totally in hair or just in isolated areas such as the upper part of the body, face, elbows etc.
  2. Acquired hypertrichosis occurs post birth. Causes of it may include side effects of certain drugs, certain types of cancer and metabolic abnormalities. It may also occur due to trauma. This generally causes hair growth around or in the facial region such as the upper lip, chin and cheeks that may follow a certain pattern.

Causes of Hypertrichosis:

  1. Genes – Genetic mutations has been seen to affect the development of hypertrichosis.
  2. Cancer – It may develop in those suffering from cancers of some forms. This form of hair growth is also known as malignant down and generally affects the face.
  3. Malnutrition – Eating disorders affect the metabolism of a person, which might lead to the development of hypertrichosis.
  4. Drugs – Certain drugs have been found to cause hormonal imbalances, which can induce excessive hair growth.
  5. Injuries – Trauma such as head or cerebral injuries or exposure to certain chemicals may also cause hypertrichosis. Porphyrias, which are disorders affecting the skin and or nerves, may also lead to its development.
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