Causes and management of hypertrichosis

Am J Clin Dermatol. 2002;3(9):617-27. doi: 10.2165/00128071-200203090-00004.


Hypertrichosis is the term used for the growth of hair on any part of the body in excess of the amount usually present in persons of the same age, race, and sex, excluding androgen-induced hair growth. In its generalized and circumscribed forms, hypertrichosis may either be an isolated finding, or be associated with other abnormalities. Therefore, accurate classification of hypertrichosis is mandatory. Excessive hair may cause cosmetic embarrassment, resulting in a significant emotional burden, particularly if extensive. Treatment options are limited, and the results of therapy not always satisfactory. Patients should, therefore, be adequately advised of the available treatment modalities for temporary or permanent hair removal. No single method of hair removal is appropriate for all body locations or patients, and the one adopted will depend on the character, area, and amount of hair growth, as well as on the age of the patient, and their personal preference. The currently available treatment methods include cosmetic procedures (bleaching, trimming, shaving, plucking, waxing, chemical depilatories, and electrosurgical epilation), and hair removal using light sources and lasers. Laser-assisted hair removal is the most efficient method of long-term hair removal currently available. The lack of comparative data make it difficult to choose the most effective system, however, although the color contrast between epidermis and the hair shaft will determine the type of laser to favor. A novel treatment for slowing excessive hair growth is topical eflornithine, an inhibitor of the enzyme ornithine decarboxylase present in hair follicles that is important in hair growth. In general, treatment of hypertrichosis is more satisfactory for patients with localized involvement, than for those with generalized hypertrichosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Androgen Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Hair Removal / methods
  • Humans
  • Hypertrichosis / etiology*
  • Hypertrichosis / therapy*


  • Androgen Antagonists
  • Enzyme Inhibitors