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Hirsutism
Body Hair

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Definition

Excessive growth of dark, coarse body hair occurs in women due to enlarged hair follicles and increased pigmentation of hair. This condition is called hirsutism and the hair distribution typically occurs in a pattern normally seen in adult males.

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Causes

  • Idiopathic or no definitive cause
  • Genetic abnormalities
  • Hereditary or familial
  • Racial
  • Endocrine system abnormalities such as polycystic ovary, Cushing's syndrome, congenital adrenal hyperplasia or precocious puberty.
  • Medications such as minoxidil, androgenic steroids, testosterone, aminoglutethimide, cyclosporine, drugs containing progestins, glucocorticoids and metoclopramide.
  • Old age.
  • Menopause
  • Puberty
  • Pregnancy
  • Adrenocortical carcinoma

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Implications

Heredity and hormonal levels play a vital role in hair growth. Hair growth can be stimulated by some drugs like corticosteroids, temporary methods of hair removal and some illnesses. Usually, growth of scalp hair is quite welcome and desirable especially in women. However, when there is excessive growth of hair on different parts of your entire body, this can be embarrassing and can make you self conscious.

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What You Can Do

  • If excessive growth of hair on the body is due to elevated androgen levels, it may be treated with low dose dexamethasone, oral contraceptives, or anti-androgen medications.

  • Cosmetic treatments or methods for eliminating excess hair such as bleaching, tweezing, hot wax treatments, chemical depilatories, shaving, electrolysis or laser hair removal are readily available.

  • Consult your physician about estrogen replacement therapy if you can attribute menopause for excessive hair growth.

  • For ovarian cysts or tumors, consult your physician about removal of the cysts or tumors.

  • Consult your physician about switching or discontinuing medications if they seem to be the problem.

  • Treatment of the underlying disease condition may resolve the excessive hair growth.

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Body Hair