Excess Body Hair
Alternate Names : Abnormal Hairiness, Excess Hair Growth
Excess body hair can occur in certain areas or all over the body.
What is going on in the body?
Excess hair growth is most commonly related to inherited factors and sex hormones. In some cases, body hair is increased by a medical problem, which can be a serious one. There are two main types of excess body hair.
The first type is an abnormal increase of male-pattern hair growth in women. This hair growth is thought to be related to male sex hormones. It occurs on the face, the armpits, the chest, and the groin area. This type of hair growth, called hirsutism, is only abnormal in women.
The second type of excess body hair occurs in areas that are not related to sex hormones. This hair growth can happen anywhere on the body. It can be all over the body, or in just one spot. This type of hair growth, called hypertrichosis, can occur in males or females.
What are the causes and risks of the condition?
Hirsutism is most often due to inherited causes. Middle Eastern, Russian, and southern European women often have more hair than women of other ethnic origins. Hirsutism may also be due to hormone imbalances, which can have several causes:
polycystic ovary syndrome(PCOS) is a common condition that is often linked with obesity and abnormal menstrual periods
Cushing syndrome, a condition in which there is too much of a hormone called corticosteroid in the blood
certain tumors that can occur in the pituitary gland, the ovary, and adrenal gland. The pituitary gland is located inside the skull and is attached to the brain. The two adrenal glands are located on top of each kidney. Both glands secrete sex hormones and hormones that are important for metabolism.
some medications, such as oral contraceptives, testosterone or steroids, which can cause hormone imbalances
Overall excess body hair is also usually inherited. It can also be seen in people who:
were born to mothers who drank alcohol, or took a seizure drug called diphenylhydantoin, during the pregnancy
take certain medications, such as minoxidil, danazol, corticosteroids, or diphenylhydantoin
have an underlying cancer, such as breast cancer or leukemia
have chronic inflammation of the skin, such as from eczema, trauma or infection. These individuals may grow excess hair in the affected areas.
have anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder in which people starve themselves to become abnormally thin
suffer from malnutrition
have spina bifida, a birth defect of the spine
have skin moles, which can cause local areas of excess hair
Excess body hair can cause people to be concerned about their appearance. But the health risks of the condition come from whatever is causing the excess hair. If the cause is cancer, for example, the outcome may be fatal.