Hirsutism/ Facial Hair
Hirsutism (Facial Hair) is a condition in women and AFAB (people assigned females at birth) with abnormal facial hair growth in a male-like pattern. In hirsutism dark and coarse hair grows on the face, cheek, and chin. The extra hair growth arises as a result of excessive androgens (male hormones), primarily testosterone. Hirsutism may also be the result of other conditions including polycystic syndrome. Hirsutism may be treated by weight loss, medication, and other hair removal therapies. Stiff and dark hair aggravates womanliness and beauty. This hair may grow on the abdomen and back as well, instead of fine hair, referred to as peach fuzz. Hirsutism affects 5 to 10 % of people in their adolescence, and 40 % of women and people AFAB at any point in their life.
Hirsutism Symptoms and Signs
The very first symptom of Hirsutism is the appearance of dark and thick hair on the chick, chin, upper lip, lower abdomen, inner sides of thighs, and other parts of the body. Hirsutism is caused by high androgens levels. Androgens are a group of sex hormones that help people enter puberty and mature physically. Men and people AMAB make more androgens than women and people AFAB. When the androgen level rises, women develop male characteristics. Apart from the growth of thick hair, there are some other associated symptoms as well. Another symptom of hirsutism is virilization. Virilization is a condition in which you develop the secondary sex characteristics of men and people AMAB. Virilization includes;
- Losing scalp hair (female pattern baldness)
- Growth of Acne on various parts of the body, especially face
- Decreased Breast Size
- Enlargement of Clitorus (clitoromegaly)
- Increased muscular development
- Women develop a masculine figure
Generally, Hirsutism appears with no identifiable cause, however, the following are the most common causes;
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). This condition, which often begins with puberty, causes an imbalance of sex hormones. Over years, PCOS may slowly result in excess hair growth, irregular periods, obesity, infertility and sometimes multiple cysts on the ovaries.
- Cushing syndrome. This occurs when your body is exposed to high levels of the hormone cortisol. It can develop from your adrenal glands making too much cortisol or from taking medications such as prednisone over a long period.
- Congenital adrenal hyperplasia. This inherited condition is characterized by abnormal production of steroid hormones, including cortisol and androgen, by your adrenal glands.
- Tumors. Rarely, an androgen-secreting tumor in the ovaries or adrenal glands can cause hirsutism.
- Medications. Some medications can cause hirsutism. These include minoxidil (Minoxidil, Rogaine); danazol, which is used to treat women with endometriosis; testosterone (Androgel, Testim); and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). If your partner uses topical products containing androgens, you can be affected as well, through skin-to-skin contact.
Hirsutism/ Facial Hair Treatment
Treatment of hirsutism with no sign of endocrine disorder is not necessary. For women who do need or seek treatment, it may involve treating any underlying disorder, developing a self-care routine for unwanted hair, and trying various therapies and medications.
Medications to Treat Hirsutism/ Facial Hair
If cosmetic or self-care methods of hair removal haven’t worked for you, talk with your doctor about drugs that treat hirsutism. With these medications it usually takes up to six months, the average life cycle of a hair follicle, before you see a significant difference in hair growth. Options include:
- Oral contraceptives. Birth control pills or other hormonal contraceptives, which contain estrogen and progestin, treat hirsutism caused by androgen production. Oral contraceptives are a common treatment for hirsutism in women who don’t want to become pregnant. Possible side effects include nausea and headache.
- Anti-androgens. These types of drugs block androgens from attaching to their receptors in your body. They’re sometimes prescribed after six months on oral contraceptives if the oral contraceptives aren’t effective enough.The most commonly used anti-androgen for treating hirsutism is spironolactone (Aldactone, CaroSpir). The results are modest and take at least six months to be noticeable. Possible side effects include menstrual irregularity. Because these drugs can cause birth defects, it’s important to use contraception while taking them.
- Topical cream. Eflornithine (Vaniqa) is a prescription cream specifically for excessive facial hair in women. It’s applied directly to the affected area of your face twice a day. It helps slow new hair growth but doesn’t get rid of existing hair. It can be used with laser therapy to enhance the response.
Procedures to Prevent Hirsutism
Hair removal methods whose results may last longer than self-care methods — and which may be combined with medical therapy — include:
- Laser therapy. A beam of highly concentrated light (laser) is passed over your skin to damage hair follicles and prevent hair from growing (photoepilation). You might need multiple treatments. For people whose unwanted hair is black, brown or auburn, photoepilation is usually a better option than electrolysis.Talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits of the various lasers used for this hair removal method. People with tanned or darkly pigmented skin are at increased risk of side effects from certain lasers, including a darkening or lightening of their usual skin tones, blistering, and inflammation.
- Electrolysis. This treatment involves inserting a tiny needle into each hair follicle. The needle emits a pulse of electric current to damage and eventually destroy the follicle. You might need multiple treatments. For people with naturally blond or white hair, electrolysis is a better option than laser therapy.Electrolysis is effective but can be painful. A numbing cream spread on your skin before treatment might reduce discomfort.
Lifestyle and home remedies
Self-care methods such as the following temporarily remove or reduce the visibility of unwanted facial and body hair. There is no evidence that self-removal of hair leads to heavier hair growth.
- Plucking. Plucking is a good method to remove a few stray hairs, but is not useful for removing a large area of hair. Plucked hair usually regrows. This hair removal method may be done with tweezers, thin threads (threading) or other devices designed for this purpose.
- Shaving. Shaving is quick and inexpensive, but it needs to be repeated regularly.
- Waxing. Waxing involves applying warm wax on your skin where the unwanted hair grows. Once the wax hardens, you pull it from your skin to remove hair. Waxing removes hair from a large area quickly, but it may sting temporarily and sometimes causes skin irritation and redness.
- Depilation. Chemical depilatories are applied to the affected skin, where they dissolve hair. These products are available in a variety of forms, such as gel, cream or lotion. They may irritate the skin and cause dermatitis. You’ll need to repeat depilation regularly to maintain the effect.
- Bleaching. Bleaching lightens hair color, making it less noticeable on people with light skin. Hair-bleaching products, which usually contain hydrogen peroxide, may cause skin irritation. Test any product you use on a small area of skin first.