Many people find excessive or unwanted body hair growth in different parts of their bodies. This can be a source of self-consciousness and embarrassment.
Medically, excessive body hair can be explained in two terms: Hirsutism and hypertrichosis. Hirsutism is specific to women, and it’s a condition where women develop coarse and dark hair in areas typically seen in men, such as the face, arms, back and chest. This condition arises when a woman has excessive male hormones called androgens.
Hypertrichosis affects both women and men. Also known as werewolf syndrome, this condition is defined by excessive hair growth that can either cover the whole body or cover small areas of the body. Hypertrichosis can happen at birth or develop over time.
Evaluating excessive body hair is subjective to the individual and culture. Certain ethnicities are more likely to develop higher amounts of body hair. As such, genetics play an important part in hair development on the body and face.
Other causes of excessive hair growth include:
- Medication: Drugs such as anabolic steroids and cyclosporine can stimulate hair growth as a side effect.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): PCOS is one of the most common causes of excessive hair in women. Research shows that almost 70% of women with hirsutism are diagnosed with PCOS.
- Adrenal gland disorders: A form of hormonal imbalance resulting in excessive hair growth. Examples of adrenal gland disorders include Cushing’s disease and adrenal tumors.
Although what is considered "excessive" hair growth is highly personal, anyone who feels disturbed by it should seek treatment to control their hair growth and improve their quality of life.