Hirsutism is the medical term for female hair growth in places where men usually have hair. The growth of chin hair is an example of hirsutism.
An article in the International Journal of Women’s Dermatology estimates that 5–10% of women of reproductive age experience male hair growth patterns. This hair growth can occur on the chin.
Some ethnic groups tend to grow more body hair than others. For example, a study showed that women of Asian Indian descent were likely to have more body hair than Caucasian or African American women.
Some possible causes of excess body hair include the following:
PCOS can cause several symptoms, including:
While PCOS causes excess facial hair, some females also experience a thinning of the hair on the head.
Many treatments are available for PCOS. These include birth control pills, which can manage hormone levels.
When the exact cause of excess hair growth is unclear, doctors describe hirsutism as being idiopathic.
Females with idiopathic hirsutism typically have:
- normal androgen hormone levels
- regular menstrual cycles
- no underlying medical conditions relating to hirsutism
A doctor will rule out various other potential causes before diagnosing idiopathic hirsutism.
An article in the American Family Physician suggests that more than 85% of hirsutism cases are due to idiopathic hirsutism and PCOS.
Examples of rarer causes include:
- Androgen-secreting tumor: Ovarian tumors increase testosterone levels in females, and this can lead to hirsutism.
- Cushing’s disease: A tumor on the pituitary gland in this condition can cause the body to produce excess testosterone. Other symptoms can include high blood pressure, facial rounding, and stretch marks.
- Medication side effect: Taking certain medications increases the risk of hirsutism. Some examples include cyclosporine, testosterone injections, and minoxidil.
- Nonclassic congenital adrenal hyperplasia: This genetic disorder affects enzymes in the body. It typically appears in late childhood or early adulthood and causes hirsutism.
- Postmenopausal symptoms: Hormonal imbalances that occur during menopause can also lead to hirsutism.
Many options are available for females who wish to remove chin hair. These include:
Electrolysis is a hair removal method that uses an electric current to destroy hair follicles, preventing any hair from regrowing in the area.
A dermatologist usually performs the procedure. It can require several follow-up treatments after the initial session.
Laser hair removal
Photo epilation is another name for laser hair removal. The procedure uses lasers to destroy hair follicles.
Plucking individual chin hairs with tweezers removes them temporarily. However, the procedure will not keep the hairs from coming back.
Shaving can remove chin hair, but it may lead to irritation that causes shaving bumps. The medical name for these bumps is pseudofolliculitis barbae.
As with plucking, shaving is only a temporary method of hair removal.
Waxing involves applying a special wax to the area of skin and using strips of cloth or paper to remove the hair. The procedure can be painful.
Females with PCOS may also benefit from lifestyle changes to maintain a moderate weight. Some examples include eating a healthful diet, stopping smoking, and getting regular exercise.
For those unable to take these medications or with hair growth that persists, a doctor may prescribe stronger medications. These may include:
- anti-androgen medications, such as spironolactone
- finasteride, which helps control enzymes that can lead to hirsutism
- gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists, such as leuprolide acetate injections
- metformin, a medication that may reduce insulin in people with PCOS
Doctors usually recommend sticking with a treatment for at least 6 months before trying a new one.
While chin hair is not harmful, it can cause feelings of self-consciousness and affect some people’s confidence.
The chin hairs are sometimes a normal part of aging after menopause. However, they can also indicate an underlying condition causing hormonal imbalances.
Anyone concerned about chin hair growth should talk to a doctor or dermatologist about potential treatment options.