What is hairiness?
Hairiness is having more hair on your body than usual. The amount of body hair people have varies a lot, but in women hairiness can be a sign of a hormone problem.
Having extra hair on your body isn't usually a medical problem
Sometimes, hairiness in women can be a sign of a hormone problem
You can remove or bleach the extra hair if it bothers you
What causes hairiness?
Sometimes hairiness runs in families and isn't caused by any kind of problem.
Hair growth is controlled by hormones. Extra male hormones in women cause thick, dark hair to grow in a male pattern, such as the face and chest. Common causes of extra male hormones include:
Adrenal or pituitary gland disorders
Certain medicine such as steroids for bodybuilding or certain birth control pills Hormonal Methods of Birth Control Birth control means preventing pregnancy (contraception). Hormones are chemical messengers one part of your body sends to another part of your body. These messengers control important body functions... read more
Women who have extra male hormones can get other male characteristics (this is called virilization). Such male characteristics include a deeper voice, bigger muscles, going bald over the forehead, and a bigger clitoris. You may also develop acne and stop having periods.
Sometimes hairiness isn't caused by extra male hormones. This can happen in both men or women. It can happen in one spot or all over the body and is caused by:
Some types of cancer
A serious body-wide disorder, such as AIDS, brain disorders, or nutrition problems
When should I see a doctor about hairiness?
See your doctor soon if you’re a woman with hairiness and have any of these warning signs:
Male characteristics, such as a lower voice, larger muscles, or going bald
Changes to your genitals
Fewer or no menstrual periods
Sudden and fast growth of extra hair over weeks or months
Hairiness can run in families. If you don't have any warning signs, feel well, have regular periods, and have family members with a lot of hair, you don't need to see a doctor.
What will happen at my doctor visit?
Doctors will examine you and ask about your hair growth, menstrual periods, and any medicines you take. They may do tests such as:
Ultrasound Ultrasonography Ultrasonography is a safe imaging test that uses sound waves to create a moving picture of the insides of your body. Ultrasonography doesn't use radiation (x-rays). Ultrasonography is also called... read more or CT (computed tomography) scan Computed Tomography A CT scan uses a large machine shaped like a large donut to take x-rays from many angles. A computer then takes the x-rays and creates many detailed pictures of the inside of your body. Each... read more of your pelvis
How do doctors treat hairiness?
Doctors treat hairiness by treating any disorders causing your hairiness. For example, if a medicine you take is causing hairiness, doctors will stop the medicine if possible. Hairiness is treated with:
Shaving, waxing, or laser treatments to get rid of unwanted hair
Bleaching to make hair less noticeable
Medicine to block the effects of male hormones