What Is Hirsutism?

There are many women around the world who experience hirsutism, also called frazonism, which is an excessive or abnormal amount of hair on different parts of their bodies. Some women have excessive hair on their chests, and others even experience facial hair growth. This is typically seen on women with an unusually high level of testosterone.  Hirsutism isn’t a disease, but it may actually be a symptom of a disease.

Diseases that Cause Hirsutism

This condition is typically caused by an imbalance in the androgen hormones, specifically an abundance of testosterone stimulating hair growth. More recently there have been studies identifying increased levels of insulin found in women experiencing this troubling affliction, and these women tend to experience this malady significantly more often as well.  Some researchers believe that these higher concentrated levels of insulin stimulate the ovaries to produce more androgens.

There are also several conditions that contribute to this increase in hair growth including Cushing’s disease, Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasic, Stromal Hyperthecosis, Ovarian tumors, Adrenal tumors, and even Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.


The most common method that most women use to treat hirsutism is various ways of hair removal including shaving, laser hair removal, electrolysis, tweezing, waxing, and various depilatories as well as other removal techniques including flash lamps and photoepilitory.  However, in more severe cases, a physician typically orders a variety of blood tests before prescribing a stronger treatment.

Certainly if the results include various tumors or other severe medical issues such as cancer different treatments are required.  However, there are a variety of oral medications that may be prescribed by the physician that have been found to be significantly effective.  Some of the effective pharmacological treatments include Spironolactone, which has been found to be one of the most effective; Cyproterone Acetate that is often more effective when combined with contraceptives; and Finasteride, Flutamide, and Elfornithine, which are androgen blockers.  Another drug that researchers have been studying is Metformin. This has been used by diabetics who are insulin resistant and has currently produced promising results.

The amount of hair on the body is normally determined by genetics, but when it’s excessive on the upper lip, chest, face, back, abdomen, arms, or legs, it can be measured as hirsutism by the Ferriman-Gallway score.  The Ferriman-Gallway score is a method that actually measures the location and amount of abnormal hair growth leading physicians to identify it as a medical condition that should be treated.


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