What is excessive hair growth and how to treat it?

Treatment of unwanted body hair is a challenging area in cosmetic dermatology. Specifically, two conditions that result in excessive growth of dark or coarse hair are Hirsutism and Hypertrichosis.

Hirsutism is defined as excessive terminal hair growth in a male pattern in females. It typically affects 5-10% of reproductive-age women. Hypertrichosis is a separate condition. It is simply an increase in hair growth anywhere on the body and is considered as a nonandrogenic condition. Although both conditions are considered an aesthetic problem, they are associated with many underlying disorders, especially androgen excess disorders.

Excessive hair growth usually produces one of the three types of hair:

  • Vellus hair: The follicles for these hairs are usually short (less than 1/13th of an inch long).
  • Lanugo hair: This type of hair is very soft and fine, like that on the body of a newborn baby.
  • Terminal hair: The hair is long and thick, and usually very dark.

Causes of Hirsutism and Hypertrichosis

  • There are several causes for hirsutism, but the most common cause is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal disorder causing enlarged ovaries with small cysts on the outer edges.
  • Hypertrichosis is usually caused by a drug, systemic illness, or paraneoplastic syndrome. It also occurs in rare familial disorders called congenital hypertrichosis.

Market overview

Hirsutism is a common condition that affects more than 3 million cases per year in the United States alone. The hypertrichosis market was valued at 2.3 billion USD in 2019 and is expected to reach 3.2 billion USD by 2024, with an anticipated CAGR of 7% during the forecast period of 2019-2024.

The Asia-Pacific region has witnessed large growth recently, driven by social pressure to conform to beauty norms leading to emotional distress and self-consciousness over unwanted hair.

Bar Chart Showing Global Hypertrichosis Market Estimated Value, 2018-2024

Excessive hair growth treatment with Glyquex

First, there is no treatment required of excessive hair growth and hirsutism when there is no sign of endocrine disorder. For people who do need or seek treatment, it may involve treating any underlying disorder, developing a self-care routine for unwanted hair, and trying various therapies and medications.

Ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) is a rate-limiting enzyme for the synthesis of the polyamines spermidine and spermine. Increases of activity are correlated with hair growth and modulate keratinocytes and epithelial stem cell proliferation in human skin. Recently the activity of ODC in the skin has been associated specifically with the hair follicles and no other cutaneous cells, as indicated by the virtual absence of ODC activity in skin containing resting hair follicles. Consequently, since the polyamines are essential for normal functioning of hair follicles, ODC, the key enzyme in the polyamine synthesis, was indicated as a potential target for hair growth and the systemic administration of an ornithine decarboxylase inhibitor altered the length, diameter, and composition of the fiber without affecting the growth of wool follicles cultured in vitro. In human skin, the topical application of an inhibitor of ODC can reduce undesired, excessive hair growth.

BMG Pharma has developed a patented product branded as Glyquex, whose key ingredients capryloyl glycine and soy isoflavones have been proven to inhibit the activity of ornithine decarboxylase (ODC). Glyquex, backed by clinical and experimental studies has shown very promising results. This efficacious cream can be used solely or in combination with laser or epilation treatments without causing any side/adverse effects and even reducing the side effects of other treatments. It can also, be used as a maintenance treatment after laser treatment.

Glyquex clinical studies results

Efficacy and tolerability of Glyquex were evaluated in two clinical studies:

  • Evaluation of efficacy of Glyquex vs placebo in decreasing hair growth after topical application for 120 days.
  • Efficacy and tolerability of Glyquex in female patients affected by forearm hypertrichosis and evaluating the cosmetic acceptability of the product.
Picture showing part of the body before and after use of Glyquex cream for treatment of excessive hair growth

The studies concluded with the results showing that Glyquex cream is effective in reducing several parameters related to hair growth after a few months with, particularly good patient compliance and cosmetic acceptability. No adverse effects such as dermatitis, pruritus, or burning have been reported throughout the studies.


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  4. Ramot Y, Tiede 5, Biro T, Abu Bakar MH, Sugawara K, Philpott MP, Harrison W, Pietila M, and Paus R (2011) Spermidine promotes human hair growth and is a novel modulator of human epithelial stem cell functions. PLoS One 6:22564 Public Library of Science
  5. Mordor Intelligence, global hypertrichosis market (2019 -2024)
  6. Accessed 14 June 2020, Levinbook, Wendy S., “Hirsutism and Hypertrichosis”, https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/dermatologic-disorders/hair-disorders/hirsutism-and-hypertrichosis