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Hair diseases

Information, types, treatments, backgrounds, links and literature


Hypertrichosis is the growth of hair on any part of the body, in excess of the amount usually present in persons of the same age, sex and race. The changes are more visible with dark haired people - also due to the fact that darker hairs are more visible.

The excess growth of hair can be variable on different parts of the body. Sometimes this disease can be caused by hormonal changes and can disappear suddenly. Nowadays, if one suffers lightly it is possible to get rid of excessive hair by new, painless hair removal treatments.

"Wolf people"

This phenomenon manifests itself in extreme growth of hair all over the body - almost the whole body is covered in hair. It is known as an extreme form of hypertrichosis and it is one the worlds rarest hereditary diseases - due to a gene defect.



The wilde man from Tenerife

Since 1650 the first 'wolf human being' has been mentioned via oral tradition - his name was Pedro Gonzalez, born in Tenerife (Canary Islands) in 1537. As a ten-year-old boy French pirates gave him away as a 'present' to King Henry II. The Spanish boy was covered with long, dark blond hair all over his body except his lips and eyes. He was a real sensation in the French kingdom. Also other future members of the Gonzales family suffered from this disease. Until the mid twenties the wolf people had been on show just like wild animals.

Julia Pastrana was known as the 'apewoman:' She was born in Mexico in 1834 and also suffered extreme from hypertrichosis. Also some of her children and grandchildren suffered from this, and until recently there are still some members of the Pastrana family alive that suffer from this disease. Some of them work as acrobats in a circus - others raise themselves several times a day or simply avoid contact with human beings.

One of them might be the circus acrobat Danny Ramoz Gómez (photos right and left) that was born on March 28th in Zacatecas (Mexico). A reporter of the newspaper 'El Mundo' visited him while he was working in a Mexican circus that has been travelling around in North America.

The 22 year old told him: "Being different keeps people at arm's length and protects me. Due to the response of my appearance I judge people and then decide whether I want to have contact with them or not. I would never remove the hairs that cover my body."

Danny travelled around a lot, also to Japan to find out more about why he is so 'abnormal.' Unfortunately no doctor could help him. One Japanese physician told him: "It might be a mutation of another very rare disease called 'licantropia.'

Danny underwent lots of dermatological therapies without any success. He even tried a kind of chemotherapy to stop the growth of his hair. Hair removal by using laser is not possible as the amount of hair is too large and besides that it takes lots of time, lots of money and can leave scars.

Since the Middle Ages only fifty cases worldwide have been known.

A wolf human being has nothing to do with a so called mythological werewolf - the name is used due to the amount of hairs that the person has, being similar to the amount of hairs an animal like a wolf has. Wolf people are 'healthy' and have normal life expectations.


Other examples

The Polish-born Stephan Bibrowsky (1890-1932), also known as "Lionel the Lion faced man" and Fedor Jeftichew also known as "Jo-Jo the the Dog-faced boy" (photo right, 1868-1903).

A wolf human being has nothing to do with a so called mythological werewolf - the name is used due to the amount of hairs that the person has, being similar to the amount of hairs an animal like a wolf has. Wolf people are 'healthy' and have normal life expectations.

Links: Hair removal (women) | Shaving information men |



An excessive production of androgenics (male hormones) causes women to have hair growth similar to men.


It generally appears as patches of raised red skin covered by a flaky white buildup. Psoriasis can also cause intense itching and burning. Psoriasis is a genetic disease. A family association exists in one out of three cases and it often appears between the ages of 15 and 35, but it can develop at any age.

In people without psoriasis, skin cells mature and are shed about every 28 days. In psoriatic skin, the skin cells move rapidly up to the surface of the skin over three to six days. The body can't shed the skin cells fast enough and this process results in patches also called "lesions" forming on the skin's surface.

Certain people carry genes that make them more likely to develop psoriasis, but not everyone with these genes develops psoriasis. Instead, a 'trigger' makes the psoriasis appear in those who have these genes.

Also, some triggers, like emotional stress, injury to the skin and some types of infection may work together to cause an outbreak of psoriasis; this makes it difficult to identify individual factors.

About 10 percent to 15 percent of those with psoriasis get it before age 10, and occasionally it appears in infancy. Psoriasis is NOT contagious - no one can catch it from another person.

Trichotillomania - chronic hairpulling

This form of hair loss is caused by pulling out one's own hair, usually without realising it. Besides pulling out the hair on the scalp, it is also possible to pull out eyelashes, eyebrows and pubic hair, resulting in noticeable bald patches.

In young children it often occurs after the birth of a new child, to get the attention of the parents. If the child is right-handed the baldness will tend to be greater on the right side of the head. It usually stops with the knowledge that one is pulling out one's own hair, but nervous 'twiddling' of hair carries on throughout life in some individuals. In older people, this habit can persist throughout the rest of their life, even though large areas of baldness can occur. In some cases psychiatric care may be required.

If you pluck a hair out of your head you are not actually pulling it out by the roots. The little bulb at the end is not the hair root. To pull your hair out by the roots would be extremely painful and your scalp would be bleeding badly, and more than likely you would pass out. Mentally disturbed patients can often cause damage to themselves by pulling out their own hair, but they often have greatly exaggerated shows of strength.

Treatment depends on the individual (total) problems and in general, but in general, with medication combined with behaviour therapy.

Other still unknown hair diseases

  • Trichorrhexis - cause the hair to break off easily.
  • Monilethrix - characterized by sparse, dry, and/or brittle hair that often breaks before reaching more than a few inches in length.
  • Trichoschisis - presence of broken and/or split hairs.
  • Pili annulati (ringed hair) - a rare condition in which naturally pigmented bands measuring 2 - 6 mm alternate with similar sized grey/white bands along the hairshaft.

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