Hirsutism: Excessive Hair Growth

About 7 percent of the women suffer from excessive hair growth. A few dark hairs around the nipples for example maybe normal but if the hair is similar to that of a man it is probably a condition called hirsutism.

Hirsutism is the term used for increased hair growth in women in areas that are not usually hairy – hairs over the face, chest, back, stomach, thighs and upper arms.

Excessive hair growth is women can be very distressing and unpleasant and can often indicate presence of hormonal problems that require examination. Excess androgen hormones often make terminal hairs heavier, thicker and darker.

Hirsutism can range from a few dark chin hairs to a mustache and sideburns to a full bread and hairy chest. Excessive hair growth in women usually occurs in the midline of the body – upper lip, chin, abdomen and chest.

Excessive hair should be a matter of great concern to a woman. There could be many reasons for excessive hair growth like congenital cause, imbalance of hormones, pregnancy, irregular menses, mental tension.


  • Production of male hormones
  • Menopause
  • Some medications
  • Excessive hair growth can be hereditary
  • Ovarian/ adrenal tumors
  • Cushing’s syndrome
  • Hyperthecosis
  • Puberty
  • Pregnancy
  • Metabolic disorders

Hirsutism has a variety of causes most of which relate to excess androgen production.
The most common cause of excessive hair growth in women is the presence of male hormones / androgens/. In other words the hair follicles produce mostly terminal type hair.

Menopause can also cause hirsutism because of decreased estrogen. Before and after menopause the ovaries don’t ovulate regularly and the estrogen levels drop – the continued androgen production leads to an increased in the number of terminal hairs.

Some medications can cause excessive hair growth in women. These include – testosterone, anabolic steroids, danazol, metryrapone.
In 2 percent of the cases the cause is the presence of ovarian tumor, because tumors produce androgens.

Other common cause of hirsutism is Cushing’s syndrome – excess cortisol production can cause excessive hair growth in both men and women.

The symptom of hirsutism is the excessive growth of hair in women on chin, face, chest, around the nipples and abdomen. Consult a doctor to determine the cause of your hirsutism.


You should never feel embarrassed and uncomfortable about your hirsutism. You are not the only one with this problem. Hirsutism is a symptom rather than a disease and may be a sign of a more serious medical indication.

Hirsutism is usually treated with hormones.

Birth control pills are most commonly used. They prevent ovarian androgen production.

Spironolactones are also used to treat excessive hair growth because they block the effect of androgens on the hair follicles.

If your hirsutism is caused by a tumor it should be removed surgically.

Temporarily ways to remove excessive hair include:

Waxing – Waxing is the most useful method for removing unwanted hair. Waxing removes hair for long periods of time and hair that is waxed grow back finer.If you have a mild facial hair problem, waxing will control the situation without causing stubble.

Plucking – Unfortunately the hair removal when plucking is temporarily (around two/three weeks) and stimulates the hair follicles to grow stronger hair.

Laser hair removal – The laser is the best way to remove unwanted body hair. Common treatment locations include legs, armpits, upper lip, bikini line, chin and back. Hair follicles absorb the light and heat up, destroying the hair and preventing re-growth. A percentage of these follicles are permanently disabled with each treatment. The laser targets only the cells under the surface and doesn’t harm the surrounding areas.

Electrolysis – Electrolysis destroys hair follicles with the heat generated by an electrolic current. Electrolysis can remove the unwanted hair permanently after five/ six sessions.
Never shave your face, chest and abdomen. Never.

How to Treat Hirsutism
Hirsutism is a condition that affects mostly women. Hirsutism causes terminal hair growth in places that are normal for men such as on the chest or the face. This condition occurs when hair follicles are overexposed to androgenic hormones. These hormones usually occur in men during puberty; in addition to having sexual purposes, they also stimulate the growth of chest and facial hair.

All women naturally have a certain amount androgens in their bodies. However, if a woman’s levels are increased, she will very likely develop hirsutism. Several factors can contribute to raised androgen levels, including common hormonal imbalances and endocrine disorders, cancerous tumors, particularly those that affect the ovaries, and raised insulin levels.

As a matter of fact, it is very much thought that obesity, which can greatly raise a person’s insulin levels, may be one of the main causes of hirsutism. Studied have shown that, if a person can lower his or her insulin levels, the severity of hirsutism decreases.

There are several pharmaceuticals that doctors can prescribe to treat hirsutism. Most drugs, such as Metformin, are used to control insulin levels and, therefore, are often prescribed to diabetic patients. However, there are other drugs, such as Elfornitin, that are used to stop the growth of hair follicles.

Hirsutism can also be controlled by traditional hair removal methods. Using depilatories is very effective; although shaving is an option, it might not be a good idea for those with extremely thick hair growth. Plucking can also work, but only if a person has a lot of patience. Waxing can be done, either in a salon or at home. However, it is advisable to go to a salon: home waxing kits can be rather dangerous.

Although laser hair removal is quite effective, it can be very painful and can cause adverse effects such as changes in pigmentation.

However, electrolysis is the most recommended method. Although it is very expensive and can be rather painful, it will remove unwanted hair once and for all.

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