Conditions & Treatments

Excessive Hairiness (Hirsutism)

Excessive hairiness, also known as hirsutism, is characterized by abnormal hair growth on areas of skin that are not normally hairy.

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. 

Treatment Programs


Massachusetts General Hospital understands that a variety of factors influence patients' health care decisions. That's just one reason why we're dedicated to ensuring patients understand their diagnosis and treatment options. Because a single option might not serve all patients, we offer a wide range of coordinated treatments and related services across the hospital. Patients should consult with their primary care doctor or other qualified health care provider for medical advice and diagnosis information.

Select a treatment program for more information:



Imaging

  • Pediatric Imaging
    The Pediatric Imaging Program at Massachusetts General Hospital Imaging specializes in ensuring the safety and comfort of child patients while providing the latest technology and the expertise of specialized pediatric radiologists.
MassGeneral Hospital for Children

  • Pediatric Endocrine Program and Diabetes Center
    The Pediatric Endocrinology Program and Diabetes Center at MassGeneral Hospital for Children is an international referral center for the management of pediatric diabetes and endocrine disorders in children and adolescents.
Department of Dermatology

  • Dermatology Laser and Cosmetic Center
    The Massachusetts General Hospital Dermatology Laser & Cosmetic Center in Boston offers laser skin resurfacing, laser hair and tattoo removal, skin tightening, dermal fillers, and body contouring. Our center has more than 20 different lasers on-site allowing us to offer personalized services for virtually any skin condition.
Obstetrics and Gynecology

  • Midlife Women's Health Center
    The Massachusetts General Hospital Midlife Women’s Health Center brings together experts from more than 15 specialties to improve, promote and advance health care for women at menopause and beyond through research, collaboration and education.
Reproductive Endocrine Unit

  • Reproductive Endocrine Associates
    The Reproductive Endocrine Associates provide the highest quality reproductive medical care to both men and women, while providing our patients the benefits of the most recent scientific and technological advances resulting from the ongoing basic and clinical investigations.

The following related clinical trials and research studies are currently seeking participants at Massachusetts General Hospital. Search for clinical trials and studies in another area of interest.

View all departments

Departments and Centers at Mass General have a reputation for excellence in patient care. View a list of all departments.