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Excessive hair growth (hirsutism)

Hirsutism is where women have thick, dark hair on their face, neck, chest, tummy, lower back, buttocks or thighs. See a GP if it's a problem for you. It might be caused by a medical condition that can be treated.

Information:

Most women get more hair on their face and body as they get older, particularly after the menopause. But this is finer hair and it's not the same as hirsutism.

Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:

  • you're a woman and you have thick, dark hair on your face, neck, chest, tummy, lower back, buttocks or thighs

The GP will check what's causing the hair growth.

You may have a blood test to measure your hormone levels. A change in your hormone levels is a common cause of hirsutism.

Treatments for hirsutism

Your GP may suggest:

If these have not helped after 6 months, your GP may refer you to a specialist. They may recommend other medicines to control your hormone levels.

Longer-lasting hair removal methods

There are treatments that can get rid of unwanted hair for longer than the things you can do at home. But they're not usually permanent.

They're also not usually available on the NHS and can be expensive.

The 2 main treatments are:

Make sure you research these treatments before trying them. They both have risks and the results are not the same for everyone.

Causes of hirsutism

Hirsutism is caused by an increase in hormones called androgens, your body being more sensitive to them, or both.

The most common cause is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

Sometimes there's no obvious cause.

Rarely, hirsutism can be caused by: