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Diagnosis and management of the dermatologic manifestations of the polycystic ovary syndrome


Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Eve J. Lowenstein, MD, PhD, 450 Clarkson Avenue Box #46, Brooklyn, NY 11203, or email:


ABSTRACT:  Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a complex phenotypic spectrum of primarily hyperandrogenic signs and symptoms. PCOS is the most common endocrine disturbance to affect women of reproductive years. Although patients affected are often very disturbed by the cutaneous manifestations, including acne, hirsutism, alopecia, obesity, and acanthosis nigricans, the clinical manifestations of PCOS ramify far beyond the skin. PCOS frequently causes menstrual abnormalities and infertility. Insulin resistance is both pathogenic and a cause of numerous serious health consequences. The accurate diagnosis and recognition of cutaneous hyperandrogenism in PCOS are discussed. The differential diagnosis is reviewed. The work-up and approach to evaluation of patients with PCOS is presented. Although no uniform treatment approach for the management of the cutaneous manifestations of PCOS has been agreed upon, the data on various treatment options and the author's treatment approach to these patients are presented.