Hirsutism at a glance:
- Hirsutism is excessive hair growth on women in areas where it normally is minimal or nonexistent.
- Arm hair may darken, or hair may grow on the face, back, chest, inner thighs or buttocks.
- Increased male hormones or sensitivity to normal amounts of male hormones cause the condition.
- Not all causes of hirsutism are reversible, but the symptoms usually are manageable with medical, cosmetic, and/or surgical treatments.
What is hirsutism?
Hirsutism is a condition in which a woman has increased body hair, in a pattern similar to that seen in men.
Hair on the face, back, midline chest or lower abdomen and inner thigh and buttocks are common areas where hirsutism arises. Darkening of arm hair can also occur, making the hair look thicker.
Hirsutism is caused by increased male hormones or increased sensitivity to normal amounts of male hormones, and is sometimes a symptom of PCOS. There are many causes of hirsutism and not all causes are reversible. However, symptoms are usually manageable with a combination of medical, cosmetic and even surgical treatments.
In severe cases, when women have balding, an enlarging clitoris, deepening of the voice, or loss of breast size, a woman is said to have virilization. Virilization requires prompt medical evaluation.
Hirsuitism symptoms usually are manageable with medical, cosmetic, and/or surgical treatments.