Few things could be as shocking to a mother as seeing her child begin to grow long hair all over his body. Fortunately this occurs rarely (the incidence is estimated at one per billion persons1). When this has occurred, public reaction to the affected individuals has varied greatly. Hypertrichotic persons have been treated as atavistic half-animals, as carnival exhibits, and as treasured addenda to royal courts. Physicians have also been keenly interested in such individuals; there are case studies dating from at least the 16th century. The Latin designation, hypertrichosis universalis congenita, has been given to the long growth of body hair.
At birth the hypertrichosis is usually limited to the ears, but during early childhood it becomes generalized.2 The hair is lanugo, 4 to 10 inches long, silky, and varying in color from silvery gray to pale yellow. It is found on all parts of the skin