What are the physical signs of precocious puberty in girls?

Updated: Nov 30, 2020
  • Author: Paul B Kaplowitz, MD, PhD; Chief Editor: Robert P Hoffman, MD  more...
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Answer

The most reliable sign of increased estrogen production is breast enlargement. Initially, breast budding may be unilateral or asymmetrical. Gradually, the breast diameter increases, the areola darkens and thickens, and the nipple becomes more prominent. Distinguishing glandular breast tissue from fat, which can mimic true breast tissue, is essential. Examining the patient while she is in the supine position usually minimizes the chance of misinterpreting fat as true breast enlargement.

Genital examination may or may not reveal pubic hair, but enlargement of the clitoris indicates significant androgen excess that must be promptly evaluated. The vaginal mucosa, which is a deep-red color in prepubertal girls, takes on a moist pastel-pink appearance as estrogen exposure increases.

Mild acne may be normal in early puberty, but rapid onset of severe acne, like clitoral enlargement, should increase suspicion of an androgen-excess disorder.


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