What is the medical treatment for hirsutism?

Updated: May 01, 2020
  • Author: George T Griffing, MD; Chief Editor: Michel E Rivlin, MD  more...
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The treatment of hirsutism begins with a careful explanation about the cause of the problem and reassurance that the patient is not losing her femininity. Then, direct intervention, if possible, is instituted for the underlying disorder. If hirsutism persists (or the patient has idiopathic hirsutism), other cosmetic or systemic treatment may be necessary. In some cases, cosmetic measures may be sufficient. In others, the slow progress of systemic therapy may necessitate more immediate cosmetic treatment. The most effective strategy is to combine systemic therapy, which has a slow onset of effectiveness, with mechanical depilation (shaving, plucking, waxing, depilatory creams) or light-based (laser or pulsed-light) hair removal.

Hirsutism requires a careful and systematic clinical evaluation coupled with a rational approach to treatment. Throughout this process, the patient must understand that, although diagnostic testing can be time consuming (and even inconclusive), it is sometimes essential for determining an effective intervention. In other cases, counseling and education may be all that is needed. For the patient who desires treatment, a wide variety of pharmacologic strategies are available. Informing the patient that current systemic therapy is imperfect is important. Furthermore, none of the drugs used to treat hirsutism have US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for such use. Initiate therapy only in patients who give informed consent after a complete explanation of the potential benefits and risks of a particular treatment and alternative approaches.

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