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5 Feb, 2020 11:41

Rare medical case reveals woman is growing hair from her GUMS (PHOTOS)

Rare medical case reveals woman is growing hair from her GUMS (PHOTOS)

Researchers have released details of a curious case of the ultra-rare medical condition known as gingival hirsutism, or ‘hairy gums.’ Only six such cases now exist in medical literature.

In 2009, a 19-year-old woman seen by doctors at the University of Campania Luigi Vanvitelli in Italy presented with hairs as thin as eyelashes protruding from the soft parts of her gums, just behind her upper front teeth. 

The physicians trawled through the medical literature and only encountered five other cases, all men, dating back to the 1960s. They conducted hormone tests and determined that the woman had polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a reproductive condition linked with hormonal imbalances. 

While this was not the direct cause of her hairy gums, it would certainly exacerbate the condition. In normal hirsutism, or excessive hairiness, abnormal hair growth is normally confined to parts of the body which already sport hair follicles, but in this instance the patient's hairs were ectopic, meaning they grew in an unexpected area.

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The hairs were surgically removed and the patient underwent a course of hormone treatments to redress the balance in her system. This proved effective, but not forever. 

Unfortunately, six years later, having stopped the hormone treatment, the woman experienced another gingival hirsutism flare-up. 

A biopsy was performed to examine the unusually thick tissues in her gums, showing that hair shafts had forced their way through the tissues in the roof of her mouth. The patient's condition worsened, but it is unclear whether she returned to her prescribed course of medication to stop hair from sprouting through her teeth, or she simply learned to live with the condition – which is believed to be pain-free, if uncomfortable. 

The researchers believe that the presence of mucous membranes in the mouth, which are closely related to those that help build our tissues when we are just embryos, may explain how hair cells were able to grow in such an unusual location.

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