He’s lived a hair-raising life.
An Indian teenager has opened up about being bullied his whole life because of a rare condition that caused him to grow “werewolf” fur all over his body.
“When I was young, people would throw stones at me,” says Lalit Patidar, 17, of his thick, curly mane. “Children were afraid I would come back to bite them like an animal.”
Patidar, who lives in Nandleta in Madhya Pradesh, specifically suffers from hypertrichosis, which the National Library of Medicine defines as “excessive hair growth anywhere on the body.”
There are two different types of the disease: generalized hypertrichosis, which occurs over the entire body, and the localized version, which is confined to a specific area of the body. Hypertrichosis can either be present at birth or appear in adulthood.
Also known as “werewolf syndrome,” the disease is extremely rare, with fewer than 100 cases recorded since medieval times.
Patidar reportedly suffered from the disease his “whole life” – but didn’t really realize anything was wrong until adolescence.
“My parents say the doctor shaved me when I was born, but I didn’t really notice anything different about me until I was about 6 or 7 years old,” the high school senior explained. “That’s when I first noticed that the hair was growing all over my body like no one else I knew.”
Doctors then diagnosed Patidar with hypertrichosis, which he found strange since none of his other family members had the disease.
And while the bearded boy wasn’t initially bothered by his premature mane given his young age, “my family members and my parents used to worry a lot about me,” he said. “Little kids used to be afraid to see me and as a kid I didn’t know why.”
Over time, Patidar became more and more aware that he was different from the other children. “Growing up, I realized that my whole body had hair and it wasn’t like everyone else,” said the teen, who soon became a target of bullying for his unusual appearance.
“My schoolmates used to tease me, they used to yell ‘monkey’ at me,” Patidar lamented. “People also tease me by calling me a ghost, they think I’m some kind of mythical being, but I’m not those things.”
He added, “I see parents taking their young children away from me, it saddens me to think of how scared they are.”
Bullies would even throw stones at him like he was some monster from an old horror movie.
So far there is no cure for hypertrichosis. Those affected simply try to keep the permanent mane in check with bleaching, trimming, shaving, waxing, lasers and other hair removal methods.
Luckily, Patidar has since learned to embrace his unique face and not let that stop him from living a happy and fulfilling life.
“I’m different from ordinary people in a good way, I’m unique,” explained the follicle-gifted lad. “Slowly, everyone in my family was starting to feel normal, and my friends were also very encouraging.”
Patidar even started blogging and making videos with the goal of becoming a famous YouTuber one day.
Ultimately, he believes that outward appearance shouldn’t prevent someone from following their dreams.
“I’ve learned many things during my journey, most notably I’ve learned that I’m one in a million,” said the teenager. “I should never give up and live life to the fullest. I always want to move forward and be happy.”
This isn’t the first high-profile case of hypertrichosis that afflicted several circus freaks in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Perhaps the most famous was Julia Pastrana, a Mexican performer known in the circus as the “bear lady” due to her heavily wooded face.
In a recent example, children in Spain grew hair all over their bodies a few years ago after they were accidentally given a hair loss medication for their digestive disorder.
This article was originally published by the New York Post and is reproduced with permission
Originally published as a teen living with the incredibly rare “Werewolf Syndrome”