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Breast Hair: Why does it occur & What can be done?

Believe it or not we have hair follicles on the breast and around the areola—this is completely normal and common in females.

Similar to other surfaces on the skin, the breast and the area around the areola contains hair follicles which are influenced by changes in both female and male hormone levels. Hormonal fluctuations are, in fact, frequently responsible for the density and thickness of the hair growing on the breast and around the areola.

The thickness and texture of hair on the breast varies based on the individual, similar to facial and body hair. In general, breast hair initially presents as fine, thin hair and then with age and hormonal changes (postpubertal), may begin to grow thicker and coarser. Hair thickness may vary based on ethnicity and skin type. For example, darker skin types are more likely to have thicker breast hair than fairer skin types.

During pregnancy, there is an increase in estrogen levels which helps promote and prolong the anagen, also referred to as the hair growth phase, which not only affects the hair growth on the scalp, but also body hair including breast and areola hair. So, for those expecting—do not be alarmed if you notice thicker and longer breast hair. Irregularities in menstrual cycle may also stimulate increased breast and areola hair growth.

When should further evaluation be considered?

Though breast hair is a common occurrence in females, there are other skin and internal conditions that may be associated with breast hair.

If you experience breast hair as well as hair loss on the scalp, menstrual irregularities and cystic acne along the lower cheeks/jawline and neck, it is recommended that you consult with your primary care physician and/or dermatologist for further work-up for an endocrine condition called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, also referred to as PCOS. Individuals with PCOS have elevated testosterone levels which may in turn influence and promote unwanted facial hair growth and body hair growth as well as host of gynecologic and endocrine abnormalities.

Certain medications may be responsible for increased breast hair growth including oral steroids, testosterone and some immunotherapy medications.

If you experience increased body hair growth as well as high blood pressure, round and red face, easy bruising, stretch marks, mood swings, muscle weakness and buildup of fat pads on the chest, upper back/neck and abdomen, it is recommended that you consult with your provider as these may be signs and symptoms of a condition called Cushing’s syndrome. This syndrome is typically associated with increased intake of oral steroids, but may be also related to an internal hormone-secreting tumor.

Breast hair can be easily removed in a few ways:

  1. Plucking: Quick and easy method. However, this is not a long-lasting solution to hair removal.

  2. Shaving: Caution when shaving breast hair as the skin is delicate around the areola and it is important to use a different razor that is used when shaving the other body parts to prevent spread of germs. Using a gentle moisturizer or non-scented shaving cream is recommended to avoid burns, cuts in the skin, ingrown hairs and skin irritation.

  3. Laser hair removal: As there are potential side effects with use of laser and light devices, it is important to seek care from a skilled provider. In laser hair removal, the laser targets the melanin (pigment) within the hair follicle and so, those with white or light hair are less likely to respond as well as those with dark hair.

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