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- Medline Plus: Excessive or Unwanted Hair in Women
- MedlinePlus: Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
- MedlinePlus: Cushing Syndrome
- MedlinePlus: Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia
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If you are experiencing unwanted hair growth on your chest, you may feel embarrassed, but more often than not it is mostly just a nuisance. Contact your doctor if you are concerned, as it could indicate an underlying issue. Unwanted hair growth on women could be due to various reasons, but there are treatments to help get rid of or hide the chest hair.
Unwanted hair growth, termed hirsutism, can occur when women produce too much of male hormones, such as:
- androgens or testosterone
- or are extra sensitive to them
The hair that grows in is coarse and dark and can grow on the lips, chin, chest, abdomen or back -- the typical areas on a man. It is the testosterone that is responsible for stimulating the darkly pigmented hair growth. Hirsutism is mostly harmless but could be from an underlying issue.
One cause of hirsutism includes polycystic ovarian syndrome, which is an imbalance of a woman's female sex hormones 1. This imbalance can change the menstrual cycle and skin, and cause small cysts to develop in the ovaries. Another cause of unwanted hair growth is Cushing syndrome, characterized by exposure to high levels of cortisol 2. This can occur when taking corticosteroids or the hormone cortisol. Another possible cause is congenital adrenal hyperplasia, which is a lack of an enzyme needed to make the hormones cortisol and aldosterone, thus causing the body to produce excess male hormone 3.
Polycystic ovary syndrome can be treated with birth control pills, progesterone pills or LH-releasing hormone analogs. Metformin has also been used to improve symptoms. Treatment for Cushing syndrome includes slowly decreasing corticosteroid use, if that is the problem, or removing the tumor that may be causing the issue of too much cortisol. Congenital adrenal hyperplasia is treated with cortisol to return hormone levels to normal.
Your unwanted hair can be removed or treated to appear less noticeable, if you so desire. Chest hair can be shaved, but it may appear thicker. Other options for removal are chemicals, sugaring and threading. Waxing and plucking are also viable options, but they may be painful and cause scars, swelling or reddening. Electrolysis or laser hair removal uses electrical current to permanently damage hair follicles. Bleaching or lightening will help your chest hair be less visible. Obesity can cause a chemical chain reaction that increases androgens, so losing weight may help reduce unwanted hair.
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