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What Is Involved in the Management of Hirsutism?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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Several options are available for the management of abnormal hair growth, or hirsutism; this may include medications, hair removal, weight control, and surgery in some cases. The best way to approach this condition depends on the underlying causes of the condition. Excessive hair growth in women can occur for a variety of reasons, some of which may be benign in nature. Some patients may be primarily concerned with hirsutism as an aesthetic issue, while in others, it can be the result of a serious medical condition that needs to be treated.

Women with hirsutism develop excess hair growth in association with a higher level of androgens in the body. Sometimes this is a result of natural hormonal variations, while in other cases it is caused by diseases, ranging from polycystic ovary disease to Cushing’s syndrome. The first step in the management of hirsutism is to find out why the patient’s androgen levels are abnormal, with the assistance of blood tests, medical imaging studies, and other evaluations.

For some causes, symptomatic management of hirsutism is the best option. Women may opt for hair removal with depilatories, shaving, or treatments like laser therapy. They can also use bleaching to lighten their hair, and may find that losing weight reduces the incidence of androgens and slows hair growth. These measures focus on the cosmetic issues associated with the excess hair growth and may be supervised by a dermatologist who can provide the patient with appropriate skin care advice.

In other patients, more aggressive treatment may be necessary. This can include hormone therapy to stabilize the endocrine system, surgery to treat overactive glands, and other treatments to focus on the cause of the disease. A woman may need to take anti-androgens, for example, to reduce the level of these hormones in her body. This not only helps with the management of hirsutism, but can also help address other medical problems that may be more serious in nature.

Once the condition is under control, follow up appointments may be advised. Changes in the patient’s skin or hair could be signs that a medical problem is arising. For example, if her skin suddenly becomes extremely rough, this might be a sign of a significant endocrine imbalance or a dermatological problem that needs treatment. The management of hirsutism can include periodic tests to check on hormone levels and evaluate patients for signs of complications that might indicate the treatment is no longer working or needs to be adjusted to be effective.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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