Excessive Hairiness (Hirsutism)
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 usually only presents a problem to women.
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 medications, also may cause excessive hairiness.
Although diagnosis of excessive hairiness can be diagnosed with a medical history and physical examination. Finding the underlying cause for the condition may include blood tests.
Specific treatment for excessive hairiness will be determined by your doctor based on:
- Your age, overall health, and medical history
- Extent of the condition
- Cause of the condition
- Your tolerance for specific medications, 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
- Medication (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 four to eight weeks after treatment is begun. The drug's possible side effects include skin irritation, a stinging sensation, and rash.
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Online Resources of Dermatology
Last reviewed: 2/8/2013