Adolescent Hirsutism

Hirsutism is a condition where females experience male-pattern hair growth.

What is Adolescent Hirsutism?

This condition causes dark, coarse hair to grow – typically on the back, chest and face.

What are the signs and symptoms of Adolescent Hirsutism?

Symptoms of hirsutism are mainly the appearance of hair on the back, abdomen, chest and face. If there are extremely high levels of androgen, additional symptoms of virilization (development of male characteristics) may appear. These can include:

  • Acne (severe)
  • Deepening voice
  • Enlarged clitoris (a small, sensitive area near the end of the vagina’s exterior)
  • Increased muscle mass
  • Receding hairlines or balding
  • Reduced breast size

What are the causes of Adolescent Hirsutism?

Hirsutism can be caused by excess male hormones called androgens (hormones that regulate male characteristics) but primarily testosterone (responsible for male reproductive growth and muscle and bone mass). Hirsutism can also be inherited or familial (passed down through generations). Other causes can include:

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) – This hormonal disorder may lead to irregular menses, numerous “pea-sized” cysts on the ovaries and abnormal hair growth and/or excess acne.
  • Tumors – An androgen (male hormone) secreting ovarian or adrenal gland tumor can lead to excess hair growth.
  • Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) – The adrenal glands (found near the kidneys and produce several essential hormones) produce too many male hormones. This disease is inherited from both parents.
  • Cushing’s syndrome  –This syndrome can occur if the adrenal glands make too much cortisol or from extended use of prednisone (a corticosteroid used to treat a wide range of conditions). This is very rare.
  • Medications – Medications like corticosteroid and phenytoin (Dilantin) can alter the hormone and body chemistry, causing the hair growth.

Risk Factors

  • Ancestral region and inheritance – Females of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and South Asian ancestry have an increased risk of developing hirsutism.

Adolescent Hirsutism Doctors and Providers