Hirsutism is a clinical condition which is present among women and presents an excessive hair growth in women. That means that hair appear in the so-called “Androgen-dependent pattern”. This pattern includes the parts of the female body where usually there is no hair growth or their presence is minimal. Critical areas are above the upper lip, cheeks, chin, between the chest, around the areola, abdomen, back and inner thighs. Almost 30% of women in the white population suffer from hirsutism.
What are the causes for hirsutism?
Hirsutism occurs as a result of increased androgen production (Testosterone, androstenedione etc.) in the adrenal glands and the ovaries or because of the increased sensitivity in the target tissues for these hormones.
The common causes of Hirsutism are:
- Medications – minoxidil, androgens, certain contraceptive drugs, glucocorticoids, etc.
- Disorders of the thyroid gland – Hypothyroidism
- Pituitary disorders – Acromegaly
- Ovary disease – Polycystic ovary syndrome, tumors
- Adrenal glands diseases – Cushing’s syndrome, Congenital adrenal hyperplasia, tumors
- Increased sensitivity in the receptors for androgen hormones
Symptoms and signs
Hirsutism means growth of dense, strong and dark hair on areas of the women body. These parts are the face, neck, chest, abdomen and the back.
It’s good mentioning that these areas of the body in most women are also covered with thin “baby” hair that are barely noticeable and that’s not a sign of hirsutism. However, increased presence of male hormones in women, despite the hirsutism, can lead to acne appearance, disruption of the ovulation, infertility, and virilism.
Virilism is a condition where despite the hirsutism there are other male sexual characteristics and the female sexual characteristics are in regression. In that case, the women voice is deeper like the men, male baldness pattern is present, breast atrophy, aggressive behavior, etc.
Hirsutism should be distinguished from the term hypertrichosis. It means increased hirsutism on the face and the body which isn’t caused by increased production of androgens. Hypertrichosis commonly occurs as a consequence of some disease in the cerebral cortex, anorexia, starvation, neurosis. Also, it can be a result of consumption of certain medications.
Setting the correct diagnosis is of exceptional importance in order to prescribe the appropriate therapy. It’s necessary to take a detailed anamnesis and perform a physical examination. Besides other laboratory tests, it’s necessary to make a complete analysis of hormones.
In some cases, additional investigations are required like computer tomography, magnetic resonance, and ultrasonographic examination.
Generally, the treatment depends on the cause that led to the appearance of hirsutism. If certain medications led to the appearance of hirsutism, they shouldn’t take them anymore. Furthermore, it can be a side effect in a case of a tumor, the condition would improve after surgical intervention. If the diagnose it’s about the polycystic ovary syndrome or Cushing’s syndrome, specialist endocrinologist prescribes appropriate therapy for the particular disease.
The treatment for hirsutism includes therapy with androgens as combined oral contraceptive pills such as Cyproterone acetate (Diane 35), finasteride, glucocorticoids, flutamide, etc.
For facial hair removing you shouldn’t make treatments that would stimulate regrowth. The best thing for this region is to discolor it with hydrogen. But if have strong and dark hair, you can make electrolysis or laser epilation.
For the hair removing you can use depilatory wax. However, waxing, electrolysis or laser epilation as treatments should be practiced after normalizing the levels of the androgens.
Note: If you notice any of these symptoms, consult your doctor or seek an opinion from a specialist dermatologist or endocrinologist.