Hirsutism is the excessive growth of coarse, unwanted body hair on women. This condition causes women to grow body hair on the face, chest, back or other body parts where men typically grow hair. Hirsutism is a harmless condition, however, many women with this condition may find it embarrassing or emotionally distressing. Hirsutism tends to run in families, and in many cases, the exact cause is never identified.
Hirsutism may occur as a result of excessive androgen levels in the body, which may be caused by a variety of factors. Conditions that may cause high androgen levels in women may include:
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
- Cushing's syndrome
- Congenital adrenal hyperplasia
- Certain medications
In many cases, hirsutism may occur with no identifiable cause. To diagnose hirsutism, a doctor will perform a physical examination and order blood tests to check for excessive androgen levels. If the blood test results show high levels of androgens, a CT scan or ultrasound may be performed to check for cysts or tumors.
Treatment for hirsutism may include hair removal treatments such as electrolysis or laser therapy. Medical treatments may include topical creams, anti-androgen medication or oral contraceptives. Home remedies to treat excessive hair growth may include waxing, shaving, plucking, or the use of over-the-counter chemical depilatories, which are available in lotions or creams.