Facial Hair Removal
The definition of hirsutism is the excessive growth of hair that in a woman’s or man’s body and face. This disorder, usually, is not dangerous and is very common, but can impact strongly on the self-esteem of the woman, which can bring serious long-term problems. Fortunately, there are a lot of treatments that can help you to keep this problem under control.
What is hirsutism?
Hirsutism is a common disorder that, according to the Journal of Dermatology, between 5 and 10% of women are affected by it. You can have the tendency to have hirsutism if your mother, sister or other female relative suffers from this condition. It is more common in women from South Asia, the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries to develop this disorder.
This disorder is an excess of hair growth in areas that are usually seen in man, for example face and lower abdomen. The texture of the hair is thicker, the color is darker than usual, and this medical condition, usually arise from an excess level of male hormones, called androgens, primarily testosterone which is the major circulating androgen in your body.
The presence of unwanted and excessive hair has impact in the social norm of femininity, and these women can see themselves as less sexually attractive, which can lead to serious psychological problems such as low self-esteem, feeling of shame, embarrassment, and even depression, which can affect the woman’s quality of life.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of hirsutism are darker and thicker hair in the woman´s body in places that usually appear in man, such as the lower back, face, neck, chest and buttocks. What is considered excessive depends on the ethnicity and culture.
The higher levels of androgen can also develop other symptoms, the most common one is called virilization. These symptoms can be:
- Enlargement of the clitoris;
- Deep voice;
- Increase of the muscle mass and musculature;
- Decrease of the breast size;
- Irregular periods or lack of periods;
Why women develop this disorder?
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
Studies show that the most frequent cause of hirsutism is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). From 50 to 70% of cases of hirsutism, PCOS is the major cause of this condition. Following hirsutism is acne, and obesity as additional characteristics. Additional symptoms can also include, as follow:
- Mood changes;
- Insulin resistance;
- Female pattern hair loss;
Adrenal gland disorders
There are some other forms of hormonal imbalance, which can also cause hirsutism. For example, Cushing’s disease, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, adrenal cancer and adrenal tumors. All of these conditions can affect the way your body produces androgens, which can cause an excessive hair growth. The most common symptoms of adrenal gland disorders are:
- Increased weight in the upper body;
- High blood pressure;
- Low or high blood sugar levels;
- Muscle and bones weakness;
There are some medications which can impact in an excessive hair growth, as follow:
- Anabolic steroids;
It is not that common, but an androgen-secreting tumor in the ovaries or adrenal glands can also cause hirsutism. There are cases of some women who can have an idiopathic hirsutism, which means there is no detectable cause for the disorder. Usually, this happens in some certain populations from South Asia, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean ancestry.
When is it important to see a doctor?
If you notice an excessive hair growth or in unusual places, it is always recommended to see your GP. The doctor first will talk to you to identify the possible causes of the disorder. Be sure to tell him any kind of medicine you are taking. This will help him to identify the causes of your condition. Your doctor will do blood tests to check your hormone levels as well as other important tests such as blood count levels. Your doctor will examine the areas where the excess hair is and ask you if you experience any other symptoms. Besides this, the GP will talk and explain to you that you are not losing your femininity and there are many treatments to help to slow decrease the growth or stop coming back.
How can you treat hirsutism?
There are many different types of treatments, which can help you to reduce the unwanted hair and stop growing back. The main treatments are:
Home hair removal methods
These methods are quite affordable for everyone but if you have hirsutism, you will need to do it more often and the results are temporary.
The main techniques are:
Waxing, threading or plucking
This method, if you do it regularly, can decrease the regrowth, but can be for some women painful and may cause an inflammation on hair follicles, and occasionally, scarring. It can also lead to infections if not done properly.
This method changes the color of your dark hair for a short period of time, but it is not recommendable for people with dark skin. The disadvantage of this technique is that it can irritate your skin.
This method can take away hair from large areas, but can also irritate your skin. It is always recommended to test in a small part of your body before doing the procedure to be sure you don’t suffer from hypersensitivity to the components of the creams.
This method is easy and quick, but can also irritate your skin and be unpleasant when the hair is growing between shaves. It can also lead to unwanted folliculitis or other skin infections.
Electrical hair removal devices (epilators)
This method can remove the unwanted hair easily, but can be sometimes painful and cause folliculitis.
Specialist hair removal methods:
Laser hair removal
This method involves a concentrated light ray which can damage your hair follicles. After this, the hair falls out. This process, usually, is not permanent and can have side-effects such as redness, scarring, or the skin can change its pigmentation; it can become darker or lighter than before the procedure.
This method uses electricity to destroy the follicles individually. This can be a permanent method, but many sessions are needed and can be painful process. It can also change the pigmentation of your skin or cause scarring.
This method can be prescribed to all women, except those who are under the age of 19, breastfeeding and pregnant women. Eflornithine HCL 13,9% cream is a convenient topical method for decreasing the growth of unwanted hair in your face and the chin. You can use this cream combined with the methods mentioned above. The effects can be noticed within 8 weeks. The side-effects can include redness in your skin, mild acne, sensation of burning on your skin, stinging sensation, and dry and itchy skin.
Drug therapy can help you control the balance of your hormone levels, which can help you control hirsutism. This method is recommended when the cause is PCOS or adrenal disorders. In this case, there are two possible options:
Antiandrogen medications: these are medicines which block the androgen receptors and decrease the androgen production from adrenal glands, pituitary glands and ovaries.
Combination birth control pills: These pills, which are composed with progesterone and estrogen, can help you with the balance of your hormone levels and they will reduce excess hair. The results can be seen from three to six months of drug therapy.
Complications and prevention
There is no way to prevent hirsutism. The only thing you can do is lose weight to reduce the hirsutism, especially if you have PCOS and suffer from obesity. Hirsutism does not cause physical complications, but can cause serious psychological effects such as low self-esteem, feeling of embarrassment and depression. It is important to go to a doctor, which can prescribe you the best option of treatment, which in most of the times will be effective and this disorder will not impact in your life quality anymore.