Symptoms & Causes of Parry-Romberg Syndrome

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Parry-Romberg syndrome is also known as progressive facial hemiatrophy. It is a condition that starts in childhood and usually affects half of the face. In rare cases, both sides of the face are affected.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Parry-Romberg Syndrome?

The signs and symptoms of Parry-Romberg are very different from person to person and range from mild to severe. The most common symptom is the thinning or shrinkage (atrophy) of the skin, soft tissues, and in some cases muscle, cartilage and bone.

Because it is a progressive condition, the symptoms worsen over time before entering a stable phase. The deterioration of the muscle and tissue includes areas around the nose, mouth, tongue, eyes, brow, ears, and neck.

The evident physical changes may include:

  • The appearance that the mouth and nose are shifting or leaning toward one side
  • A sunken-in appearance of both the eye, as well as the cheek, on the affected side of the face
  • Changes in skin color (pigmentation), including darkening (hyperpigmentation) or lightening (hypopigmentation)
  • Facial hair may turn white and fall out (alopecia)
  • Facial bone or muscle loss

Systemic associations may include:

  • Neurological symptoms (seizures, migraines, or episodes of severe facial pain known as trigeminal neuralgia)
  • Ophthalmologic manifestations
  • Orthodontic changes

What Causes Parry-Romberg Syndrome?

Parry-Romberg syndrome is overall more common in girls. The cause of this disease is still unknown. Some factors thought to cause this disease include:

  • Viral or bacterial infections
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Nervous system abnormalities
  • Inflammation of the brain or meninges (lining of the skull)
  • Physical trauma

Make an Appointment

For an appointment with the Cleft and Craniofacial Center, more information or to obtain a second opinion for your child, please call us at 617-355-6309 or email samantha.hall@childrens.harvard.edu.

International Patients

For families residing outside of the United States, please call Boston Children's International Health Services at +01-617-355-5209.

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