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Hirsutism

Basics

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Definition

The normal amount of body hair varies widely among women. Usually, a woman will only grow fine hair (peach fuzz) on her lips, chin, chest, abdomen, or back. When women grow coarse, dark hairs in these areas, the condition is called hirsutism. This pattern of hair growth is more typical of men.

Symptoms

Hirsutism is rarely caused by a serious underlying disorder. Pregnancy occasionally stimulates its development. Hirsutism triggered by tumors is very unusual.

Hair follicles usually become enlarged, and the hairs themselves become larger and darker. A woman whose hirsutism is caused by an increase in male hormones has a pattern of hair growth similar to that of a man. A woman whose hirsutism is not hormone-related has long, fine hairs on her face, arms, chest, and back.

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