a woman getting treatment to remove her facial hair

Symptoms, Causes & Treatment for Hirsutism

What is Hirsutism?

Hirsutism is a term that defines the condition in women which results in excess hair growth that is coarser or darker like male or can be called as male pattern hair growth that grows on the face, chest and back. The effect of hirsutism is caused by the increase of excess male hormones known as androgen hormones and testosterone. Hirsutism causes excess hair growth similarly to men's can be called male-like pattern hair.

There are different personal methods to hide these types of hair growth in females. Usually, women have low androgen levels as this hormone generally triggers male physical and sexual activity so it is basically known as a male hormone. As per some research, about half of the people who are affected by hirsutism have increased levels of androgen in them. Overproduction of androgen hormone in women can cause overstimulation of the hair follicles thus giving back darker and coarser hair among women. 

Generally, Hirsutism is caused in women after menopause or due to some hormonal diseases like PCOS, PCOD and other hormonal imbalances. Hirsutism treatment becomes necessary when your hair eventually grows coarser and darker than men's.

Symptoms of Hirsutism

Usually, the symptoms of hirsutism in women is simple and can be easily noticeable and visible as there is significant growth of hair in women dealing with hirsutism on the upper lip, chin, sideburn of the face and around the nipples and in the lower abdomen. These symptoms are usually observed in mild hirsutism among women.

In more advanced cases, you may observe more mature hair growth on the upper back, chest, shoulders, and upper abdomen. This usually occurs during puberty among women. Hirsutism could also be caused due to many hormonal disorders.

Some other symptoms along with excess hair growth are described below:

  • Alopecia 
  • Deeper voice
  • Oily skin
  • Balding
  • Acne
  • Enlarged clitoris

Causes of Hirsutism

Hirsutism is generally or may be caused by:

  • The hormonal imbalances in women known as polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS cause excess hair growth, irregular periods, obesity, infertility and multiple ovarian cysts.
  • Hirsutism may be caused due to Cushing syndrome which is the result of the high level of cortisol hormone in women.
  • Some androgen-secreting tumours in the ovaries can result in hirsutism.
  • Different types of medications too can cause hirsutism.

Risk factors of Hirsutism

  • Family History
  • Obesity

Treatment of Hirsutism

As the androgen level in the body increases, it results in hirsutism among women, this is also caused by hormonal imbalances in the body.  But hirsutism can be treated with proper treatment by a doctor. A high insulin level also causes a reduction in hirsutism, so balancing insulin in the body is very important. For the treatment of hirsutism, a specific cause is always required by the doctor. Reducing weight may also return to a reduction in hirsutism. 

Always consult your doctor before taking any medications. There are many other medicines that can be taken orally, and topically and also there are anti-androgen drugs that may help in treating hirsutism.

  • Oral contraceptives pills like birth control pills and many other hormonal pills that contain estrogen may help in treating hirsutism. This is a very common treatment among women.
  • Some prescribed topical cream may help in treating or reducing excess hair growth when applied on affected areas but does not affect existing hair. This topical cream can be applied twice a day or as per the doctor's prescription.
  • Anti-androgen drugs block androgen from targeting the receptors in your body. This drug can also cause side effects, and hence it's better to consult a doctor before taking this medication.

There are also some lifestyle, cosmetic and medical therapy that may help in hair removal if you deal with excess hirsutism. This includes:

  • Laser therapy is one of the best cosmetic procedures to get rid of excess hair. In this method, a beam of laser light is passed over the skin that damages the hair follicles and prevents further hair growth. Laser treatments may need multiple sessions to get rid of complete unwanted hair.
  • Electrolysis involves inserting a small tiny needle into each and every hair follicle as the needle emits a pulse of electric current that destroys the hair follicle eventually. This method is very effective but can also be painful.
  • Plucking hair may be done with threads, tweezers or some devices designed for plucking. This is a very simple method that can remove some unwanted hairs from eyebrows, upper lips, chin and other facial regions but can not be used to remove hair from larger areas.
  • Shaving is an inexpensive and painless method but may need regular shaving as hair grows back after a few days.
  • Waxing involves pulling hair from your skin and the best part of waxing is it can remove hair from a larger area of the body.
  • Bleaching lightens the hair making it less visible. Bleaching may cause irritation in some people due to hydrogen peroxide content. Before applying on the skin area, always have a patch test.

Take Away

Hirsutism is generally caused by excess male hormones known as androgen. When androgen level is high in women's bodies, excess hair grows on the face. Shoulder, back and abdomen leading to male pattern hair growth.