Definition, causes, symptoms, prevention and medical treatments

What is Hirsutism?

Hirsutism refers to the excessive hair growth among females. This hair can grow in a number of places, including areas such as the lips, chin, thighs and chest. Having hair here can lead to low self-esteem. Hirsutism is, however, a common condition. One to three women in 20 are affected by excessive hair growth.

Areas Affected by Hirsutism include
Above the top lip (moustache)On the chin (beard)
On the lower and upper backOn the chest
On the stomachOn the shoulders
On the thighs


Excessive hair growth can have big consequences on a woman’s life. She is at risk of feeling bad about her skin and withdrawing into herself.

How many women do you see walking around with unshaven legs? Although there’s no serious study on the subject, it’s easy to see that it’s not a large percentage of the female population. But imagine if these women had so much hair that you could see it on their face? Not many women would own this so openly.

Hirsutism is caused by hormonal imbalances and is characterised by excessive hair growth in women. It is different from other hair problems in that the hair grows in areas that are usually completely bare for women. Hirsutism is a nightmare for the fairer sex but it can be stomped out with the right treatment.

However, do not self-diagnose yourself with hirsutism the moment you notice some unwanted hair when you wake up in the morning. Hirsutism can be a warning sign that you have a more serious illness. As soon as hair appears in areas where it should not be, speak to a health professional who can accurately diagnose your illness.

Causes and what it looks like

Hirsutism is generally caused by having too many androgens (male hormones) in the blood. In some cases, even a normal androgen level can cause hirsutism due to a woman’s skin being more sensitive. This is known as a peripheral cause. Excessive hair growth is also caused by having too much of this hormone in the blood. This is known as a central cause. Androgen hypersecretion can happen in two places: the ovaries and the adrenal glands. When it appears in the ovaries it is due to having polycystic ovaries or ovarian tumours. In this case, the woman’s testosterone and delta-4 androstenedione levels increase. When it happens in the adrenal glands, it is due to a masculinizing adrenal tumour or adrenal hyperplasia. Hirsutism can also be hereditary.

Taking anabolic steroids can also cause hirsutism. These substances that are usually used by athletes can cause you to grown hair in inappropriate places.

Hirsutism is identified by an abundant hair on the face, shoulders, breast areola, between the legs, on the chin, etc. It is different from hair virilism and hypertrichosis because the hair grows in different places. These problems involve abundant hair growth in areas that normally grow hair. When we talk about hirsutism, it is in areas that are not usually hairy.

Why do I need to act quickly?

Hirsutism is a real source of suffering for women, especially in our day and age when it is so fashionable to have a ‘smooth’ body. Hirsutism is an embarrassing problem for some women, so it can cause issues with body image. This is why it is important to find a solution as quickly as possible.

How do hair follicles work?

The three life phases of a hair
The anagen phaseThis is the first stage when the hair begins to grow. If the old hair has not already fallen out, the new hair will push it out.
The catagen phaseOnce the hair has pushed through, the hair follicle is fully developed and begins to shrink. The hair is now visible at the surface of the skin and stops pushing through.
The telogen phaseThis is the last phase of the hair’s life. The hair now falls out.


Treatments for hirsutism

Hirsutism is diagnosed after carrying out various medical tests. It can be treated with drugs, surgery or permanent hair removal. The treatment you use depends on the cause of your hirsutism. If it comes from ovarian or adrenal tumours, then the doctor will perform a surgery. If it is due to adrenal hyperplasia, there are treatments that can stop the problem from getting worse. Some cases will require oestrogen-progesterone treatments.

You can use electric epilators, laser treatments, waxing or bleaching for cosmetic reasons. Epilation and laser removal are the most effective.

Laser epilation: the dermatological method

vaniqaLaser epilation to remove hair is done by a dermatologist. This involves burning the roots of the hair based on the colour and type of your skin. Epilation can take up to ten sessions, depending on the case, and it focuses on the pigment. You should have a six- to seven-week break between sessions. It is not advised to remove hair yourself whilst undergoing treatment; nor should you bleach or expose yourself to the sun. Epilation is effective as long as you respect the dermatologist’s orders: especially dark-skinned women.

There are different treatments to treat excessive hair growth. Some women decide to resort to hormonal surgery. This can be relatively expensive, so many women opt for epilation instead. The best treatment for hirsutism is Vaniqa cream, which is extremely effective.

Hirsutism is an extremely annoying problem for women. It is not easy to treat hair in places it should not be. To avoid this irritating situation, you should start by limiting any steroid consumption. If you recognise any of the symptoms, you should refer yourself to a doctor immediately in order to sort out the problem.

Psychological issues

Nowadays hirsutism causes more psychological and aesthetic issues than health problems. It is not a dangerous condition and carries no real danger to your health. Hirsutism is more of a medical anomaly than a real illness. The quantity and location of the hair is determined by the Ferriman and Galway scale.

Excessive hair growth usually happens after puberty and it can be due to higher levels of androgen in the body. Androgens are male hormones, especially testosterone. They can stimulate hair growth and increase their size.

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Medical review on March 10, 2017 by Dr. Davis Taylor


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