A 13-year-old boy from Central India has been living with hypertrichosis, a rare condition that grows hair all over his body, including his face.
For this reason, Lalit Patidar earned the alias “Werewolf Boy” in his hometown in the state of Madhya Pradesh.
Lalit suffers from hypertrichosis, a condition characterized by excessive hair growth that may occur throughout the body or in small isolated patches. Unsurprisingly, it is also called the “Werewolf Syndrome.”
Hypertrichosis is not to be confused with hirsutism, which applies to women with excessive hair growth that follows a male pattern.
Hypertrichosis is typically hereditary, but no one in Lalit’s ancestry has ever had it, at least to his family’s knowledge.
“I saw him half an hour after his birth,” his mother Parvatibai told Barcroft TV’s Born Different. “His whole body was covered with hair.”
Lalit’s father Bankatlal recalled how his son’s appearance had shocked the nurse who tended to his birth.
“The nurse was startled when she saw him. She called the doctor in and asked him what was wrong,” he said. “The doctor said not to worry, he’s fine.”
In 2011, scientists discovered a genetic mutation responsible for the condition: an extra gene called SOX3, which happens to be responsible for hair growth.
“If in fact the inserted sequences turn on a gene that can trigger hair growth, it may hold promise for treating baldness or hirsutism in the future, especially if we could engineer ways to achieve this with drugs or other means,” said Pragna Patel, who co-authored the study published in the American Journal of Human Genetics, according to Live Science.
Lalit’s mother said that the doctor did not do anything other than shave her son’s hair. For years, the family was left clueless about the young boy’s condition, trying countless treatments and remedies that clearly had no help.
“It doesn’t grow longer or get shorter,” she said. “We tell everyone it’s a birth defect.”
Because of his condition, Lalit has difficulty seeing, eating, and breathing.
“I want the hair to go away and I can grow up without it. I’d like to get rid of it,” Lalit said. “The hair gets into my eyes. When I eat, it goes into my mouth. Sometimes it’s difficult to breathe properly. I also have to use an ointment in my ears if there’s something wrong with them, but using it is difficult as well.”
There’s the social aspect to worry about, too. As a younger child, Lalit was bullied by his classmates.
“When we used to walk around, the other kids would mock him and call him ‘monkey,’” said a friend named Dilip Rathore. “They used to throw stones at him.”
Dilip added that their teacher scolded the class and taught them not to make fun of others — in this case, Lalit.
“He scolded the class, and after that, they stopped bullying him. After that, we all played together.”
Lalit’s future remains uncertain. His family was told that his teenage years might give them the option for a surgical treatment.
“If there’s a cure, the doctors say it might happen,” his father said. “Things could change after he’s 15 or 16 because of hormonal changes. But if that doesn’t happen, then surgery might be an option.”
Images via YouTube / Barcroft TV