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Alternative Names Return to topHypertrichosis; Hirsutism; Hair - excessive (women)
Definition Return to top
The normal amount of body hair varies widely among women. When coarse, dark hairs grow where women typically do not grow dark hair, such as the lip, chin, chest, abdomen, or back, the condition is called hirsutism.
Causes Return to top
Excessive hair growth in women is usually from too much male hormone (androgen). A common cause is polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). In most cases, however, the specific cause is never identified. It tends to run in families. In general, hirsutism is a harmless condition. But many women find it bothersome, even embarrassing.
If hirsutism develops suddenly and is accompanied by other typical male features, such as deepening voice, acne, or increased muscle mass, it may be caused by a more serious disorder. These causes, such as hormone-secreting tumors or cancer, are rare.
Rare causes include:
Home Care Return to top
There are a variety of ways to remove unwanted hair:
Birth control pills and anti-androgen medications can also help reduce hair growth. A doctor must prescribe these medications.
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your doctor if:
What to Expect at Your Office Visit Return to top
Your doctor will perform a physical examination, including a pelvic examination if appropriate. The doctor will ask questions such as:
Diagnostic blood tests may be performed to measure levels of :
If a tumor is suspected, x-ray tests such as a CT scan or ultrasound may be recommended.
References Return to top
Habif TP. Clinical Dermatology. 4th ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby, Inc. 2004.
Claman P. SOGC clinical practice guidelines. Hirsutism: evaluation and treatment. J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2002; 24(1): 62-73, 77-79.
Büyükaebiz A. Hirsutism in adolescent girls. J Ped Endocrinol Metab. 2007; 20:473-474.
Bona G, Bozzola M, Buzi F, et al. Hirsutism. Minerva Pediatr. 2007; 59(3):289-298.Update Date: 7/17/2007 Updated by: Nikheel S. Kolatkar, MD, Clinical and Research Fellow, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Hypertension, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.