Hirsutism is excess hair growth in women and children.

Whether or not hair growth is abnormal depends on:

  • A person's idea of "normal"
  • Family tendencies
  • Ethnic background


True hirsutism may be due to:


Risk Factors

A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition.

Risk factors include:

  • Family members with hirsutism
  • Lack of ovulation
  • Disorders of the adrenal glands
  • Use of androgens
  • Older age


Symptoms and signs of some disorders associated with hirsutism may include:

  • Excess hair growth (on the face, arms, legs, or chest)
  • Abnormal or absent menstrual periods
  • Decreased breast size
  • Male-pattern baldness (in a woman)
  • Deepened voice
  • Increased size of clitoris
  • High blood pressure]]>
  • Enlarged ovaries
  • Enlarged adrenal glands
  • Abnormal cholesterol and glucose intolerance

Adrenal Gland

Kidney and adrenal
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The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. Tests may include:

  • Blood tests—to measure the amounts of certain hormones
  • Stimulation or suppression tests—to measure how hormone levels in the blood respond to changes
  • X-ray]]> —a test that uses radiation to take a picture of structures inside the body
  • Ultrasound—a test that uses sound waves to examine the inside of the body
  • ]]>CT scan]]> —a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of the inside of the body
  • ]]>MRI scan]]> —a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of the inside of the body



Treatment is directed at the underlying cause of the hirsutism and may include:


These may include:

Local Hair Removal

Methods of removing hair include:

  • Shaving
  • Chemical treatment (depilatories)
  • Waxing
  • Electrolysis
  • Laser treatment
  • Bleaching

Combination Treatment

Researchers are also looking into combining treatment options for patients diagnosed with hirsutism. A study published in the Journal of American Academy of Dermatology found that elfornithine 13.9% cream in addition to laser treatments further reduces unwanted facial hair for up to six months. ]]>*]]>

Treatment of Other Conditions

If you are diagnosed with a condition that may be causing hirsutism, proper treatment may resolve the hirsutism.


Hirsutism may be prevented by treating the underlying cause.