Hirsutism is excessive body hair in men and women on parts of the body where hair is normally absent or minimal. It may refer to a "male" pattern of hair growth that may be a sign of a more serious medical condition, especially if it develops well after puberty. Cultural stigma against hirsutism can cause much psychological distress and social difficulty. Facial hirsutism often leads to the avoidance of social situations and to symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Hirsutism is usually the result of an underlying endocrine imbalance, which may be adrenal, ovarian, or central. It can be caused by increased levels of androgen hormones. The amount and location of the hair is measured by a Ferriman-Gallwey score. It is different from hypertrichosis, which is excessive hair growth anywhere on the body.
Hirsutism affects between 5–15% of all women across all ethnic backgrounds. Depending on the definition and the underlying data, estimates indicate that approximately 40% of women have some degree of facial hair.
Treatments may include birth control pills that contain estrogen and progestin, antiandrogens, or insulin sensitizers.
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