The rare disease of werewolf syndrome in children that scares parents

The rare disease of werewolf syndrome in children that scares parents

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A strange disease called werewolf syndrome or hypertrichosis It has been seen in Spain this summer, in at least 17 children who consumed a gastric protector called Omeprazole to counteract the effects of gastroesophageal reflux. Apparently, the drug was contaminated with Minoxidil, which is the active ingredient in a baldness drug, which is why young children have been found with excess hair on their bodies. Let's see what this disease consists of!

It is considered a very rare and strange disease, characterized by excessive hair growth in areas that normally should not be there. They call it werewolf syndrome when hair growth is in general form, that is, throughout the body.

In reality, the pathophysiology of this disease is unknown, it remains an enigma for science, therefore its causes can be very diverse. But what is known is it does not have a predilection for race or gender, that is, it can affect any individual. Hypertrichosis or werewolf syndrome is classified as:

1. Hereditary or congenital
This type of hypertrichosis is very rare, it manifests itself from birth and its cause is due to genetic mutations. Within these congenital, two types of manifestations have been verified:

- The ulnar, called “hairy elbows”, due to the excessive growth of hair in the elbow area, which manifests itself from childhood, in a bilateral way, that is, in both elbows and develops over the course of childhood to be resolved in adolescence, partially or totally.

- The Spinal, when the growth of the hair is in the lower part of the back, where the vertebral column ends.

2. Acquired
This type of hypertrichosis is more common and can have many causes. It is generally associated with pathologies such as cancer, drug addiction, metabolic diseases (Thyroid), eating disorders (anorexia and bulimia), celiac disease, due to medications, infectious diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis or malnutrition (marasmus). Hypertrichosis can appear in 2 ways:

- Located (in a certain area of ​​the body).

- Generalized, on the entire surface of the body (werewolf syndrome) and this affects one in every one billion individuals.

If the hypertrichosis is congenital, it is difficult to treat, since the cause is due to a genetic mutation, and it can constitute a real aesthetic, social and self-esteem problem. If it is acquired, it is easier to treat, since if we control or eliminate the cause that originates it, the hypertrichosis will improve and even disappear.

The methods to treat it, especially when it is localized, are mainly aesthetic or hairdressing: bleaching the hair, dyeing it, cutting it or waxing it. Also another method to remove excess hair permanently is the laser. But when the disease is congenital and, in a generalized way, it is difficult to remove the hairs, with the consequences described above.

In these 17 cases of hypertrichosis in Spain, by mixing two medications, Omeprazole with Minoxidil, by omitting the ingestion of the medication, it will gradually improve until it disappears, because the cause is acquired.

In my professional practice for more than 30 years, I have only managed one case of hypertrichosis, which was in a 5-year-old boy and located at the level of the back, exactly at the level of the coccyx. From the anamnesis I was able to conclude that it was congenital and at first it was a small lesion where there were many light-colored hairs, but these were increasing as the child grew.

My behavior was to refer him to the geneticist and the plastic surgeon, but unfortunately I did not follow up, since they did not consult me ​​again. I hope it has improved.

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