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Hirsutism

Q: I'm almost 18 years old, and am a girl. For a while I've been noticing that my body hair has gotten darker and thicker, and there are a few stray hairs on my neck [!] and chest, that's not even talking about the 'happy trail' and other generally normal body hair. I've read about hirsutism. Can it be a mild form of that? And is hair growth something that may be influenced by your genes, because my dad is really hairy?
 
A: In most cases, hirsutism is a condition about which you would have no question if you were suffering from it.
 
      Hair growth can be hard to diagnose as “abnormal” when it concerns members of certain races and ethnic backgrounds, unless the amount of hair is significant. Generally, individuals of Mediterranean, South and Central American, and Indonesian descent (among others) sometimes show more body hair (and thicker occurrences of such) than their Eastern European and Nordic counterparts. It is genetic, so it is related to both your ancestry and your immediate parentage.
 
      In many cases, when dealing with “a few hairs” in odd places, the best method of dealing with unwanted hair is to simply remove it using traditional methods, such as plucking, shaving or waxing. If you see an increase in the amount of hair growth in areas that are abnormal for a young woman (chest, front of the neck and face) you may want to speak with your doctor about possible causes. There could be hormonal factors, and given your age, you may simply be experiencing the effects of hormonal changes associated with adolescence. Only your doctor can determine if the problem is hormonal and whether or not the problem is abnormal.
 
      There are treatments available for even the most severe cases of abnormal hair growth, but some of these can be very expensive and may require multiple sessions to achieve lasting results.
 
      How you choose to deal with the situation as it stands depends largely on your personal preference. Try not to worry about a few unwanted hairs too much, and unless you see signs of a worsening problem, treat them as merely cosmetic issues. Just remember, if you are concerned about the hair growth being a sign of a potentially more serious problem, see your doctor.
 
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