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Imagine the shock of a mother and father who noticed pubic hair growing on their 18-month-old. The cause? The father was using a topical testosterone gel that he applied to his leg and was then bouncing his baby on his lap, causing casual transfer of the testosterone gel from his leg to his baby. The growth of the hair stopped and reversed when the infant was no longer exposed to the gel.

This story and others are shared by authors Dr. Irwin Goldstein of Alvarado Hospital and Tyler Lewis in his most recent issue of The Journal of Sexual Medicine, sharing a commentary that comes as the use of testosterone is becoming increasingly popular.

Common treatments to balance a man’s testosterone levels include the use of injections, patches or creams. The use of creams, ointments and sprays has become increasingly popular in recent years because of the ease and convenience of the topical applications. Initial studies also showed the creams to be much more efficient and effective. With ease and convenience, however, comes consequence. In certain cases it has been found that testosterone creams and sprays used by men can be transferred to women and children upon contact.

Children as young as 18 months old exposed to testosterone gel have been shown to grow pubic hair, acne and, in some long-term cases, their skeletal size increased. When the children were no longer exposed to the testosterone gel, the progression of puberty ceased. Women, especially post-menopausal, exposed to the gel experienced increased hair growth on the face and body, deepening of voice and increased muscle mass.

"Testosterone levels in women and children is typically less than 5% to 10%, therefore any slight increase or exposure to testosterone by skin-to-skin cancer can have immediate and negative implications,” said Dr. Goldstein, who is editor in chief of The Journal of Sexual Medicine and director of the sexual medicine program at Alvarado Hospital. "In cases where the men’s testosterone gel affected the spouse and children, some men switched to patches and their family members no longer experienced the side effects once the exposure to testosterone ceased.”

Dr. Goldstein recommended a heightened sense of hyper vigilance for men who are using testosterone gels or creams to prevent casual transfer to others.