A family in Nepal recently underwent laser hair removal to treat excessive hair growth caused by congenital hypertrichosis lanuginosa or werewolf syndrome, a rare condition that leads to body hair growth in places it doesn’t normally develop.
There have been about 50 individual cases of congenital hypertrichosis across the world since the Middle Ages, according to Medscape. Of these 50, only about 34 cases of the condition, which is often caused by a genetic mutation, have been properly diagnosed and documented. Over the past few centuries, those with the condition were treated as freaks. Many sufferers were even used in 19th-century crowd-drawing sideshow acts.
The 38-year-old Devi Budhathoki lives in a remote mountainside village in northern Nepal about 120 miles from the capital Kathmandu with her three children, 14-year-old Manjura, 12-year-old Niraj and 7-year-old Mandira. All four were born with werewolf syndrome, causing them to grow thick black hair on their foreheads, cheeks and noses.
Although the 65-year-old father Nara Bahadur Budhathoki does not suffer from the condition, he recently told Reuters photographer Navesh Chitrakar that he does not mind his wife’s excessive facial hair.
“He said a good man does not pursue a woman for her appearance,” Chitrakar told Metro.
The photographer spent time with the Nepal based family in September, documenting their laser hair removal procedures.
“Spending time with [Devi Budhathoki], I saw a mother who is fighting against all odds just to get a better future for her children,” he told Metro.
Despite a decrease in poverty over the past few years, Nepal is still one of the world’s poorest nations, according to Rural Poverty Portal. More than 30 percent of Nepal’s citizens live on less than 50 cents each day and almost 80 percent of the population relies on subsistence farming in rural areas. Devi Budhathoki claimed that the stares she and her family receive due to the congenital condition don’t compare to the hardships they endure due to poverty, according to Metro.
Luckily, Dhulikhel Hospital right outside Kathmandu offered Devi Budhathoki and her children free laser hair removal.
“More than myself, I’m worried about my children,” Devi Budhathoki commented before undergoing treatment, according to The Daily Mail. “They are mocked by their classmates. My children have talked about the new life ever since we received the word that the hospital is going to treat us. My son has told his friends that he will be back with a new face and they can no longer tease him.”
The Budhathoki family’s laser hair treatment results won’t last forever and unfortunately, the family will need to undergo follow-up procedures once the hair grows back. The treatment also presents such risks as scarring, dermatitis and hypersensitivity.
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