Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Do I have some sort of hormonal imbalance that's causing abnormal hair growth?"
I am 16, male. I have a problem with what I would call abnormal body hair growth. I know humans are covered in hair, but it's usually blonde and very thin, so it can't be seen(basically non-existent). I have thin hairs covering my whole body which are dark and more noticeable than normal people. They are on my whole arms, back, chest, face, etc. It is really bothersome and, though it may sound stupid, it affects my self-esteem. I'm afraid the hair will get even thicker as I get older. I heard this is because of testosterone, a lot of people say it's okay because I'm male, but I don't think this is normal. My skin is also quite bad, very prone to acne(even around the body). I think they might be linked, because I've seen other people with the same problem who also have bad skin. I think I may have some hormonal imbalance. Is there any way to fix these that doesn't include waxing, shaving, etc?
Your are correct in assuming that hormones have the ability to influence hair growth and acne, as well as a multitude of other functions throughout the body. Disorders of excessive hair growth are caused either by abnormally high levels of testosterone (which can also cause acne) or oversensitivity of the hair follicles to the effects of testosterone. When boys hit puberty, testosterone production from the testes increases dramatically and this normal process leads to development of secondary sex characteristics such as growth of facial and pubic hair, laryngeal enlargement (deepening the voice), and penile enlargement around age 12 or 13. Usually people with inherited disorders leading to increased testosterone production have early onset of puberty, so if you feel this may be the case for you, you should definitely make an appointment to see an endocrinologist for special testing. However, in some circumstances it is possible to have a disease causing elevated testosterone levels or another disease causing increased hair growth (called Hirsutism) that does not present until puberty, so it is a good idea to be evaluated by a physician in any case. As a male, it is normal to have body hair, even large amounts of dense body hair, so an important step to determining whether you have a medical problem is evaluation of the distribution of hair on your body by a physician. This can be done by a primary care doctor, an endocrinologist, or a dermatologist. The chances are that you are experiencing a totally normal increase in body hair as part of puberty, because hormonal and hair follicle disorders causing excessive hair growth are not common. But if you feel that your hair growth is affecting your quality of life and self esteem, I recommend scheduling a visit with a physician to determine for sure whether you are suffering from a hormonal or genetic disorder and what treatment options are available for your hair growth and acne. It may set your mind at ease.
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