If you are female, normal hair growth on your face, neck, back or abdomen is usually confined to fine hair or "peach fuzz." If you develop coarse or dark hairs in those areas, it’s called hirsutism.
According to the National Institutes of Health, hirsutism is most often harmless and the cause often tough to establish. It can be due to simple aging and hormonal changes, genetics and other factors. Symptoms that may accompany hirsutism are acne, trouble maintaining regular periods and difficulty losing weight.In rare cases, hirsutism may be a sign of a more serious condition, especially if symptoms develop suddenly. These disorders include Cushing's syndrome, cancer or a tumor of the ovary or adrenal gland, causing overproduction of androgen hormones.
Though hirsutism is often only a cosmetic concern, it can be extremely embarrassing to women.
What you can do: Shaving is not recommended, as hair may be more visible as it grows in. Other temporary solutions include bleaching, tweezing, waxing, depilatories and chemical hair removers.
Permanent solutions like electrolysis and laser therapy act on the hair follicle to inhibit new growth. A U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved topical cream, Vaniqa, may also be appropriate for you. It can be used alone or in tandem with laser hair removal.
Contact your health provider if you experience sudden changes in hair growth, or if male characteristics like a deepening voice or decreasing breast size occur.
Cushing Syndrome. Medline: National Institutes of Health. Public Information Sheet. Accessed February 27, 2012.
Excessive or Unwanted Hair in Women. Medline: National Institutes of Health. Public Information Sheet. Accessed February 27, 2012.
Hordinsky, Maria, Sawaya, Marty. Roberts, Janet l. "Hair Loss and Hirsutism in the Elderly." Clinics in Geriatric Medicine. 2002. Volume 18, Issue 1, pp. 121 - 133.