A WOMAN was left horrified after she discovered she was growing hair inside her mouth.
The patient, from Italy, rushed to the hospital after developing an extremely rare condition which causes eyelash-like hairs to sprout from her gums.
And medics are now sharing the woman’s story to raise awareness for the rare illness.
The lady, who has not been named, first visited doctors for the condition when she was 19 years old.
At the time, she was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a condition caused by an imbalance in levels of s*x hormones in the body.
PCOS can cause excessive hair growth, including excess facial and body hair.
Excessive hair growth
The patient was given oral surgery to remove the gum hairs and given birth control pills to help regulate her hormone levels.
And several months later, doctors saw no signs of the hairs.
However, six years later, when the woman was 25-years-old, she returned to the same clinic with hairs in her gums.
She told medics that she had stopped taking the prescribed birth control pills.
Upon examination, doctors saw that she also had excess hair on her chin and neck – and inside her mouth she had brown hairs “similar to eyelashes” on her gums.
The woman once again had oral surgery to remove the hairs, and she was told to return for a checkup.
Despite this, the patient did not return until a year later – when she had even more hairs growing from her gums.
She had the hair removed and medics determined that the unusual hair growth was down to hormonal imbalances tied to PCOS.
In the February issue of the journal Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology and Oral Radiology, they note that when the woman stopped treatment with birth control pills, the hair growth returned.
They believe this is the first case of oral hair growth in connection with PCOS.
What is polycystic ovary syndrome?
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common condition that affects how a woman’s ovaries work.
The 3 main features of PCOS are:
- Irregular periods – which means your ovaries do not regularly release eggs (ovulation)
- Excess androgen – high levels of “male” hormones in your body, which may cause physical signs such as excess facial or body hair
- Polycystic ovaries – your ovaries become enlarged and contain many fluid-filled sacs (follicles) that surround the eggs (but despite the name, you do not actually have cysts if you have PCOS)
If you have at least 2 of these features, you may be diagnosed with PCOS.
If you have signs and symptoms of PCOS, they’ll usually become apparent during your late teens or early 20s.
They can include:
- Irregular periods or no periods at all
- Difficulty getting pregnant as a result of irregular ovulation or failure to ovulate
- Excessive hair growth (hirsutism) – usually on the face, chest, back or buttocks
- Weight gain
- Thinning hair and hair loss from the head
- Oily skin or acne
PCOS is also associated with an increased risk of developing health problems in later life, such as type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol levels.
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The doctors say the gum tissue was able to grow hairs due to her having sebaceous glands in her mouth — the glands in the skin that secrete an oily substance and often surround hair follicles.
There is no cure for PCOS, and so the woman is at risk for the hairs returning, Dr Khrystyna Zhurakivska, a clinical dental researcher at the University of Foggia, told Gizmodo.
However, it’s likely that continued treatment with hormonal contraception would reduce her symptoms.