What is Coarse Hair? Causes of Coarse Hair in Men & Women

Understand your coarse hair symptoms, including 3 causes & treatment options for your coarse hair.

This symptom can also be referred to as: rough hair, thick hair

  1. Coarse Hair Symptoms
  2. Coarse Hair Causes
  3. 3 Possible Coarse Hair Conditions
  4. Coarse Hair Treatments & Prevention
  5. Real-Life Stories
  6. Coarse Hair FAQ
  7. Questions Your Doctor May Ask
  8. Statistics
  9. Related Articles
  10. References

Coarse Hair Symptoms

Hair comes in all lengths and colors and can be found all over the body. We are mammals, after all. However, particular aspects of our hair may warrant a closer look.

Each of our hairs is composed of protein strands and rooted in our skin. Every strand lives for two to seven years before falling out and being replaced. Much like the rest of our body, hair changes in thickness and color as we age [1].

Coarse hair has the largest diameter of all hair textures and contains the cortex, cuticle, and medulla. Maybe coarse hair is the norm for you, and you're already familiar with some over-the-counter products that can help manage it. But, if coarse hair appears where it was not before, it may be the sign of a medical condition.

And, since hair largely grows on the exterior of the body, symptoms are easy to spot.

Checking to see if any of the following apply will be beneficial in identifying if you have coarse hair:

  • Dry hair ends
  • Thick patches of hair
  • Hair that is rough or hard to the touch
  • Hair that is difficult to work with

Coarse hair on the head can be normal, hereditary, and, in many cases, desired. Hair product manufacturers specifically advertise products that add volume and thickness to hair, both of which are components of coarse hair.

Concern over coarse hair is typically minimal, however, when coarse hair begins to grow unexpectedly, other factors may be in play.

Coarse Hair Causes

Most people have hair covering one or more parts of their body. In fact, hair growth on people occurs on all but a handful of places on the human body. If your normal hair is coarse, it is likely due to genetics. If your hair is not typically coarse, but coarse hairs are beginning to appear, there are several potential causes.

Hereditary coarse hair causes:

  • Family Tree: Your family background and ethnicity influence your hair texture in different ways.
  • Systemic Disease: Unusual hair texture may also result from inherited genetic syndromes.

Medical coarse hair causes:

  • Hormonal Imbalance: Over- or underproduction of several types of hormones has been known to cause the growth of coarse hair [2]. Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone [3]. Pituitary Cushing's and tumors have also been linked to coarse hair symptoms.

Environmental coarse hair causes:

  • Medicinal: Several medicines have been linked to the growth of coarse hair including testosterone, DHEA, anabolic steroids, and Minoxidil [4].

3 Possible Coarse Hair Conditions

The list below shows results from the use of our quiz by Buoy users who experienced coarse hair. This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

Polycystic ovary syndrome

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal condition very common in women of reproductive age, resulting in menstrual abnormalities as well as an excess of the androgen testosterone. PCOS can affect a woman's overall health and appearance and often has a si...

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Coarse Hair Symptom Checker

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Hypothyroidism, or "underactive thyroid," means that the thyroid gland in the neck does not produce enough of its hormones. This causes a slowing of the body's metabolism.

The condition can occur due to autoimmune disease; any surgery or radiation treatment to the thyroid gland; some medications; pregnancy; or consuming too much or too little iodine. It is often found among older women with a family history of the disease.

Common symptoms include fatigue, constantly feeling cold, weight gain, slow heart rate, and depression. If left untreated, these and other symptoms can worsen until they lead to very low blood pressure and body temperature, and even coma.

Diagnosis is made through a simple blood test.

Hypothyroidism is easily managed with daily oral medication. The patient usually starts feeling better after a couple of weeks and may even lose some extra weight. It's important for the patient to be monitored by a doctor and have routine blood testing so that the medication can be kept at the correct levels.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: fatigue, depressed mood, difficulty concentrating, weight gain, muscle aches

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Low calcium level

Hypocalcemia is a condition where there is not enough calcium in the blood. Calcium is a mineral contained in the blood, which helps the heart and other muscles function properly, and is needed to maintain strong teeth and bones.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: fatigue, shortness of breath, irritability, general numbness, tingling foot

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Coarse Hair Treatments and Relief

If your coarse hair symptoms are sudden and you have other coinciding symptoms, then it may be time to call your doctor.

Consult your doctor if coarse hair is found in conjunction with:

  • Weakness or pain in the back and/or head
  • Acne
  • Changes in weight
  • Mental changes
  • Excessive hair growth (females)
  • Seizures
  • Problems with menstrual periods
  • Trouble losing weight
  • Diabetes

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms along with coarse hair, it is recommended that you schedule an appointment with a physician. The conditions listed above do not lend themselves to home remedies. Over-the-counter pain medication may provide temporary relief, but only a doctor can determine if the symptoms are related and what the underlying cause may be [5].

Professional coarse hair treatments:

  • Prescription Medications: Your doctor may prescribe a variety of medications to help manage the growth of coarse hair.
  • Removal: Professional techniques such as electrolysis provide some form of temporary or permanent removal [6].
  • Surgery: Certain surgical procedures may be necessary if hormonal imbalances are the result of pituitary issues. A pituitary tumor causing coarse hair, among other things, requires surgical removal.

At-home coarse hair treatments:

  • Removal: Controlling coarse hair can be done through a variety of at-home treatment including shaving, chemicals, and waxing.
  • Hair products: A wide range of hair products designed to manage coarse hair on the head are available.

Oftentimes, coarse hair is unavoidable. Thyroid disorders and hormonal imbalances are treatable. If, however, your coarse hair is natural and expected, but difficult to manage, you may simply need one of the wide range of hair products that can help you have your hair looking and feeling its best.

Real-life Stories

Once your story is reviewed and approved by our editors, it will live on Buoy as a helpful resource for anyone who may be dealing with something similar. If you want to learn more, try Buoy Assistant.

FAQs About Coarse Hair

Here are some frequently asked questions about coarse hair.

Why has the texture of my hair changed?

As we age, our hair texture changes, but textural changes may also be the result of genetic syndromes or from the use of certain medications. Issues with the pituitary gland, for example, have been known to alter hair texture and the use of testosterone, anabolic steroids, and DHEA can change hair texture as well.

Can certain medications affect the coarseness of my hair?

Medications can affect hair in a variety of ways. The pituitary gland and the thyroid can play a significant role in hair texture, and medications for either can affect coarseness. Steroids and testosterone can also affect hair growth and texture.

How do I stop my hair from breaking off?

When hair is stripped of its natural oils it can become stiff and brittle. Conditioners can help moisten the hair and using softer brushes or combs will further limit damage. Adding combinations of cider vinegar and oils to hair can also help restore its strength.

Is coarse hair hereditary?

Genetics and ethnicity are both important factors in determining hair texture. Your hereditary may simply help define the coarseness of your hair or result in genetic disorders that can cause the coarseness to change.

Why is my pubic hair so coarse?

Pubic hair is typically developed during puberty as a result of increased levels of androgens in men and estrogen in women. The hair is often coarser in nature than hair found on the rest of the body. Coarse hair can also sometimes be a sign of genetic disorders or caused by certain medications.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Coarse Hair

To diagnose this condition, your doctor would likely ask the following questions:

  • Have you been feeling more tired than usual, lethargic or fatigued despite sleeping a normal amount?
  • Have you lost any hair lately?
  • Have you had any changes in your weight?
  • Do you have dry skin?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions

Coarse Hair Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your coarse hair

Coarse Hair Symptom Checker Statistics

People who have experienced coarse hair have also experienced:

  • 11% Hair Loss
  • 4% Fatigue
  • 3% Rash With Bumps Or Blisters

People who have experienced coarse hair were most often matched with:

  • 40% Low Calcium Level
  • 30% Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
  • 30% Hypothyroidism

Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from Buoy Assistant (a.k.a. the quiz).

Coarse Hair Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your coarse hair


  1. Martin LJ. Aging Changes in Hair and Nails. U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus. Updated August 22, 2016. MedlinePlus Link.
  2. Sachdeva S. Hirsutism: Evaluation and Treatment. Indian Journal of Dermatology. 2010;55(1):3-7. NCBI Link.
  3. Safer JD. Thyroid Hormone Action on Skin. Dermato Endocrinology. 2011;3(3):211-5. NCBI Link.
  4. Vorvick LJ. Excessive or Unwanted Hair in Women. U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus. Updated October 8, 2017. MedlinePlus Link.
  5. Hunter MH, Carek PJ. Evaluation and Treatment of Women with Hirsutism. American Family Physician. 2003;67(12):2565-2572. AAFP Link.
  6. Treating Excess Body Hair Could Remedy a Hairy Situation. American Academy of Dermatology. Published March 9, 2012. AAD Link.

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