Ambras syndrome is the presence of excessive hair that is not caused by androgens, as is the case with hirsutism. This condition may be congenital or, more commonly, may be acquired. Several treatment options are available to manage Ambras syndrome in cases where it causes distress for a patient, which can be an issue when it covers large areas of the body. A specialist in dermatology may supervise care for complex cases.
Several divisions are used to distinguish between different forms of this condition. Localized forms feature hair growth in a limited area, in contrast with generalized forms, where it covers the whole body. Patients may have lanugo, which is a fine and soft hair, or terminal hair, which is pigmented and fully mature. The type of hair and area of growth can provide important clues about the cause. Finally, doctors can also determine whether a case is inherited, or acquired for other reasons.
People with congenital forms of Ambras syndrome have genetic mutations that cause the abnormal hair growth. This condition can be hereditary, as cases dating back to the middle ages document. It may also appear spontaneously due to random genetic mutations. These patients may show signs shortly after birth, making the condition evident. Acquired Ambras syndrome can be caused by medications and certain illnesses.
This condition is considered a skin disease, and treatment options can vary. Some patients may seek hair removal with waxing, lasering, or simple shaving to keep the growth to a minimum. Others may benefit from treatment of an underlying medical issue, such as changing medications, to limit the excessive hair. It can take time for medical treatments to take effect, as the body could need time to adjust. During this period, the hair may continue to grow and cause distress.
Cases of Ambras syndrome are quite rare. Historically, some people with this condition made a living in traveling circuses and freak shows by displaying their bodies to members of the public. This condition can also be associated with dental abnormalities, and as a result it is sometimes referred to as werewolf syndrome. Some carnival performers capitalized on this with nicknames like “The Dog-faced Boy,” drawing attention to their distinctive teeth and gums.
In cases where dental abnormalities cause speech or eating problems, a dentist may be involved in treatment. Patients could benefit from surgery or braces to straighten teeth and address overgrowth of the gums. It may also be important to monitor the mouth on an ongoing basis for signs of complications.