What is hirsutism?

Hirsutism is appearance of male pattern hair in girls/women (Face, chin, chest & body).

Virilization is a condition when a female develops male sex characteristics, or a newborn boy has increased male characteristics at birth.

What are the causes?

Hirsutism/ Virilization may be caused by:

  • Excess testosterone/androgen production (Polycystic ovarian syndrome, Androgen secreting tumors of ovary/adrenals)
  • Use of anabolic steroids

In newborn girls, the condition may be caused by:

  • Congenital adrenal hyperplasia in the baby or her mother (Defect in steroid production by the adrenal gland with subsequent excess androgen production)
  • Certain medications taken by the mother during pregnancy
  • Other medical conditions in the mother (such as tumors of the ovaries or adrenal glands that release male hormones)

What are the symptoms & signs?

Symptoms include development of excess hair over the face, chin (moustache, beard areas), chest, below the umbilicus and over the body.

Signs of virilization in a female may include:

  • Deepening (Hoarseness) of the voice
  • Increase in facial & body hair
  • Male-pattern baldness
  • Muscular development (male pattern)
  • Enlargement of clitoris

What are the tests to be done?

  • Blood tests to detect excess testosterone/adrenal androgens in females
  • Hormonal evaluation for PCOS: FSH,LH,Prolactin,Testosterone,DHEAS
  • CT scan, MRI, or ultrasound to rule out tumors of the ovaries and adrenal glands

How to treat?

Treatment of the cause (Removal of the adrenal/ovarian tumor) if there is any.


Congenital adrenal hyperplasia: To be treated with glucocorticoids.


Weight reduction (Diet & exercise), some medicines like anti-androgens (Finasteride, Spironolactone, Cyproterone acetate) and local measures (Laser therapy, electrolysis and waxing) are helpful in the treatment of hirsutism.

Hairgrowth over the chin and upper lips

Excessive hair growth over the chin

Hirsutism is usually due to excess testosterone levels/action
Treatment: Removal of the cause, if possible
Weight reduction, medicines (anti androgens) and laser
therapy are helpful in PCOS


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