In the world we are living in today, people are judging others by their looks. That way, most people especially women are spending quality time on the mirrors to beautify themselves and look their best.
Thanks to the new technology, models, and celebrities are posting their best pictures in social media networks such as Instagram and other women are trying all they can to look like them. Well, we’ve been hearing that beauty lies in the eyes of beholders for decades and how you interpret beauty is not the same as how someone else interprets it.
But what happens when you have hirsutism? Without a doubt, how you interpret beauty might change and if you’re hearing this name for the first time, you’ve come to the right place and we will tell you everything you need to know about hirsutism.
What is hirsutism?
Hirsutism in women can simply be defined as the excess growth of coarse and dark hair appearing in a male-type pattern in some areas of the body where men typically grow hair, such as chest, face, and back. Your genetic makeup determines the amount of hair you have on your body and you’ll realize that people have different hair color, thickness, and distribution due to hereditary differences.
Hirsutism is a medical condition that develops as a result of an excess male hormone known as androgens, although it can at times be due to a family trait. Hirsutism could be an emotional burden that harms one’s body image and self-esteem. One woman in 10 develops hirsutism and report feeling embarrassed and unfeminine because they believe that the unwanted hair they have on their bodies should be for males.
Most of these women avoid physical closeness with other people and try to hide their hair growth to conceal it. Even though the unwanted hair can be removed, the process is frustrating, expensive and time-consuming and the hirsute women may fall into depression if they can’t manage their hair removed.
Causes of hirsutism
It is very common for hirsutism to run in the family. If your sister or mother has hirsutism, chances are that other females in the family will get it.
Hirsutism is in most cases associated with high levels of male hormones known as androgens. According to experts, it is normal for female’s body to make androgens though in low levels as high levels may cause hirsutism and other male-related things such as small breasts and deep voice. Androgens are related to certain conditions that may cause hirsutism, such as;
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) – PCOS is by far the most common cause of hirsutism. According to experts, it’s caused by a sex hormone imbalance that may result in obesity, infertility, irregular periods, and multiple cysts on the ovaries. Nine in ten women suffering from hirsutism have PCOS.
- Cushing’s syndrome – Occurs as a result of high exposure to the hormone cortisol.
- Tumors – Women with tumors either in their adrenal glands or ovaries are at a higher risk of developing hirsutism because their hormonal levels are affected.
There are various drugs which have been reported to alter the levels of the hormone in female’s systems thus leading to unwanted hair on their body or face. They include anabolic steroids that have hormones, rogaine that spur the growth of hair, danazol that treats women with endometriosis, and fluoxetine for depression.
The following are some of the factors that influence the likelihood of some women developing hirsutism;
- Obesity: According to experts, obesity increases the production of androgen which in turn worsens hirsutism.
- Ancestry: Women of the Middle East, South Asia, and the Mediterranean ancestry are at a higher risk of developing hirsutism without any identifiable cause than other women.
- Family History: There are several factors that run in families and may influence your likelihood of developing hirsutism, such as polycystic ovary syndrome and congenital adrenal hyperplasia.
A woman with a moderate form of hirsutism notices substantial hair growth on the chin, sideburn area, upper lip as well as around the lower abdomen or nipples. Sooner or later, the hair matures and may look exactly like the one growing on the scalp.
Advanced hirsutism causes mature hair to grow on the shoulders, upper back, upper abdomen, and chest which normally begins during puberty. In any case hirsutism begins before or after puberty, the cause might be linked to hormonal problems and you should see a doctor for evaluation of the symptoms.
Hirsutism in women can be diagnosed using various tests that may include the following;
- Physical examination
- Medical history
- Blood tests aimed to check the levels of testosterone
- Thyroid function tests
- Body hair assessment using a standard scoring system
- Tests such as various scans aimed at checking for androgen-secreting tumor
- Tests that check for PCOS, such as ultrasound scan of the ovaries
Hirsutism can be treated using medications, hair-removal therapies, and self-care methods
According to experts, the average life cycle of a hair follicle takes nearly six months and this also seems to be the time you should take medications for hirsutism which include the following;
- Oral contraceptives – Hormonal contraceptives or birth control pills containing progestin and estrogen can successfully treat hirsutism caused by the production of androgen. Oral contraceptives are very common and treat hirsutism in women who wouldn’t wish to have children in the future. Possible side effects include headache, dizziness, nausea. And stomach upset
- Anti-androgens – If oral contraceptives are found ineffective in you after six months, doctors will likely prescribe anti-androgens that prevent androgens from binding to their receptors in the body
- Topical cream – This slows down the growth of new hair especially on the face and should be applied directly to the affected area
2. Lifestyle and home remedies
- Plucking – You can use tweezers to effectively remove a few stray hairs
- Shaving – This method is cheap and quick but needs to be done repeatedly due to the fact that it only manages to remove hair only at the skin surface
- Waxing – This method is all about applying warm wax on the skin areas with unwanted hair and after it hardens, you gently pull to remove the hair
- Chemical depilatories – Chemical depilatories are available as creams, lotions, or gels and as soon as you spread them on your skin, it breaks down your hair shaft’s protein structure.
If you wish to remove the unwanted hair permanently, doctors will recommend two available options, laser therapy or electrolysis. Laser therapy entails passing a beam of a highly concentrated laser (light) over the skin to damage hair follicles and inhibit hair growth. Electrolysis, on the other hand, requires insertion of a tiny needle in every hair follicle which produces a pulse of electric current that destroys the follicle.
Hirsutism is a condition that not every woman would want to talk about. As a matter of fact, affected women have no self-confidence as they feel absurd. Well, you have all the reasons to feel less a woman but that shouldn’t prevent you from enjoying life to the fullest.
There is always a solution to every problem and if you have unwanted hair, you can successfully remove them and if you don’t know how, I believe this article will get you started.