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by Carson-DeWitt R

(Excess Male-Pattern Hair Growth)



True hirsutism is often due to an increased level of a male sex hormone called androgen. The main circulating androgen is called testosterone. This hormone is normally found in both men and women. There are certain medical conditions or medications that may cause an elevation in the levels of this hormone in women.
  • Congenital adrenal hyperplasia
  • Some forms of Cushing syndrome
  • Adrenal tumors
  • Ovarian tumors
  • Pituitary tumors
  • Certain drugs, including:
    • Minoxidil
    • Cyclosporine
    • Phenytoin
    • Anabolic steroids
    • Diazoxide
    • Progestin-containing medications (such as oral contraceptives)
Sometimes excess hair growth is due to the person's ethnic background or family tendencies. In some cases, the cause is not known.


American Osteopathic College of Dermatology




Canadian Dermatology Association

Health Canada



Azziz R. The evaluation and management of hirsutism. Obstet Gynecol . 2003;101:99-108.

DermNet NZ. Intense pulsed light therapy. DermNet NZ website. Available at: . Updated June 15, 2009. Accessed September 2, 2010.

Hirsutism. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: . Updated August 31, 2012. Accessed September 12, 2012.

Hirsutism. N Engl J Med. 2006;354:1532-1533.

Lustberg ME. American Osteopathic College of Dermatology website. Available at: . Accessed September 12, 2012.

11/1/2007 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance : Hamzavi I, Tan E, Shapiro J, Lui H. A randomized bilateral vehicle-controlled study of eflornithine cream combined with laser treatment versus laser treatment alone for facial hirsutism in women. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2007;57:54-59.

9/2/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance : Haak CS, Nymann P, Pedersen AT, et al. Hair removal in hirsute women with normal testosterone levels: a randomized controlled trial of long-pulsed diode laser versus intense pulsed light. Br J Dermatol. 2010 Aug 20. [Epub ahead of print]


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