Excessive Hairiness (Hirsutism)

What is excessive hairiness?

Excessive hairiness, also known as hirsutism, is characterized by abnormal hair growth on areas of skin that are not normally hairy. Although the condition can affect both men and women, it is usually more bothersome to women.

What causes excessive hairiness?

Excessive hairiness tends to run in families, especially in families of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and South Asian descent. The excessive hairiness in children and women may be caused by pituitary or adrenal glands disorders. In addition, women may develop excessive hairiness after menopause. Anabolic steroids or corticosteroids, and certain medicines, also may cause excessive hairiness.

How is excessive hairiness diagnosed?

Although diagnosis of excessive hairiness can be diagnosed with a medical history and physical exam. Finding the underlying cause for the condition may include blood tests.

Treatment for excessive hairiness

Specific treatment for excessive hairiness will be discussed with you by your healthcare provider based on:

  • Your age, overall health, and medical history

  • Extent of the condition

  • Cause of the condition

  • Your tolerance for specific medicines, procedures, and therapies

  • Expectation for the course of the condition

  • Your opinion or preference

Treatment may include:

  • Removing the hair by shaving, plucking, waxing, depilatories, electrolysis, bleaching, or laser surgery

  • Medicine (to control any underlying endocrine disorder)

Eflornithine is a prescription cream specifically used to slow down the growth of facial hair. It starts to work as soon as 4 to 8 weeks after treatment is begun. The medicine's possible side effects include skin irritation, a stinging sensation, and rash. 

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