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