Hirsutism is when a woman has excessive hair growth. The hair is usually long and dark and may appear on the face or other parts of the body such as the chest, bottom or thighs.
Men don't develop hirsutism, but they can develop something similar known as hypertrichosis. Hypertrichosis may have similar symptoms, but develop as the result of another condition or as a side effect of medication.
Hirsutism can develop as a result of sensitivity or an excess of male sex hormones known as androgens. Conditions that can result in an excess of male hormones in pre-menopausal women are polycystic ovary syndrome, Cushing's syndrome, tumours, anabolic steroids, acromegaly or congenital adrenal hyperplasia.
Hirsutism could also develop as a result of phases of hormonal change, in particular menopause. Sometimes hormones get altered during this period and remain high even after menopause, resulting in excess hair growth.
It's also possible for some medications to alter hormonal balances or simply make you more sensitive to the effects of androgens or for some people just to be born with an increased sensitivity to androgens.
There are various different hair removal processes that can be used to help remove excess facial hair. Which one you choose will largely depend on you. Hair removal done with the help of electrolysis and lasers can be extremely expensive and time consuming; however they can provide a permanent solution. These methods might not be suitable for everybody and especially people with darker skin should not attempt to use laser hair removal.
Waxing, shaving, sugaring or bleaching are all methods that don't provide a permanent solution, but they are less costly than electrolysis or laser hair removal and can provide you with an immediate result, that can last anything from a couple of days or weeks. It's important to understand that these methods can cause skin irritation, especially if you have sensitive skin.
Prescription treatments such as Dianette, which is a contraceptive pill with anti-androgenic qualities, can help regulate any imbalances thus stopping hair growth, however the combined contraceptive pill may not be right for everybody to take. Alternatively, you have the option of the prescription cream Vaniqa, which is meant to slow hair growth significantly.
Polycystic ovary syndrome, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, Cushing's syndrome, tumours, or acromegaly all may have hirsutism as a possible symptom.
Hirsutism itself isn't dangerous, but it can be a sign of a far more serious condition, which is why it's always important to speak to your doctor if you think that you may have hirsutism.
Yes, treatments like laser hair removal and electrolysis damage hair follicles to the point where they can't produce hair like they are supposed to. These treatments can be time consuming and costly. It may also be possible to stop excessive hair growth by treating the hormonal issues at the root of the symptoms.
Each hair removal method has its risks and benefits and it's important to consider these in order to find the best hair removal treatment for you. Shaving, for example, may be convenient, cheap and quick but can cause you to experience stubbly regrowth and irritation.
It's possible that people who are overweight are more likely to develop hirsutism because the body tends to produce more male sex hormones if you are overweight. Woman after menopause are also more at risk of develop excessive facial hair.
It is believed that hirsutism can run in families and that a sensitivity to androgens can be inherited.