Excessive Hair Growth

Also known as: hirsutism

What is excessive hair growth?

When women grow body hair more than is normal or in areas where hair growth usually occurs in men, such as the back, chest or face; the condition is known as hirsutism.

Excessive hair growth in men can also occur.

Hirsutism is quite common, occurring in about 8- to 10 percent of women in the USA, particularly women of Mediterranean, Middle East or South Asian origin.

Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (POS) have a high prevalence of hirsutism. In prepubertal children hirsutism is usually a sign of precocious puberty and may be associated with a serious underlying disease.

What causes excessive hair growth? 

Typically, higher-than-normal levels of male hormones lead to excessive hair growth. These can be due to multiple underlying medical conditions, certain medications, a family history of the disorder or it may be idiopathic (cause unknown).

What are the symptoms of excessive hair growth? 

Along with the abnormal hair growth, women with the condition may also have:

  • A deep voice

  • Small breasts

  • Larger muscle

  • An enlarged clitoris

  • Balding

  • Acne

What are excessive hair growth care options?

Hirsutism requires a careful and systematic evaluation. For some, counseling and education may be all that is needed. For others and depending on the underlying cause a variety of drugs (oral contraceptives, glucocorticoids, aldosterone antagonists, etc), may be utilized with multiple mechanical cosmetic measures to remove excessive hair.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: 3/23/2018 2:19:39 PM

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