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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 usually only presents a problem 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 medications, also may cause excessive hairiness.

How is excessive hairiness diagnosed?

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.

Treatment for excessive hairiness

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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Skin cancer accounts for nearly half of all cancer cases. Protecting your skin from the sun is vital. It’s also important to examine your skin on a regular basis. Become familiar with moles or other skin conditions in order to better identify changes. If you or your family has a history of skin cancer, visit a dermatologist regularly for routine skin checkups.

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