Overview of hirsutism
Hirsutism is a condition in women that causes excessive dark or coarse hair that resembles the face, chest, and back. With hirsutism, excess hair growth often stems from excess male hormones (androgens), especially testosterone. Self-care techniques and viable treatment alternatives are accessible for ladies who need to treat hirsutism.
Causes of hirsutism
Increased levels of androgens or excessive sensitivity of hair follicles to androgens can cause hirsutism. Although androgens are available in men at higher levels, women also have these hormones in lower amounts. Male hormones such as testosterone stimulate hair growth, increase body volume, and intensify hair growth and pigmentation.
High levels of insulin, a hormone that “opens” cells to absorb energy from sugars, may contribute to the growth of hirsutism. Insulin can stimulate ovarian cells to produce androgens. This may happen in women with insulin resistance, such as those with type 2 diabetes.
High levels of insulin may also activate insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) receptors in the same cells, likewise increasing androgen production. Since type 2 diabetes can result from obesity, this may also be a risk factor. High cholesterol may also play a role. Hirsutism can be a negative effect of some medications. Androgen therapy that includes testosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), or danazol, may increase hirsutism.
The body naturally produces the hormone DHEA, and some people take it as a supplement to combat age-related diseases, such as osteoporosis. Danazol is a synthetic steroid that is sometimes part of treatment for endometriosis. Both may raise testosterone as a side effect.
Excessive hair growth in women with normal androgen levels, regular menstrual cycles, and no other underlying conditions is called idiopathic hirsutism. This implies that the issue has no recognizable reason.
Hirsutism does not always indicate a major medical anomaly. However, if it started before puberty, if it is accompanied by other male-related traits such as a deeper voice, or if it is due to a tumour, then the person should seek medical attention.
Tumors of the adrenal glands, the pituitary gland, and the ovaries can sometimes lead to hirsutism. However, the hirsutism that occurs, for this reason, will generally be more severe and start faster than the hormonal causes.
Symptoms of hirsutism
Hirsutism is stiff or dark body hair, and it appears on the body where women generally do not have hair, especially the face, chest, lower abdomen, thighs, and back. Opinions differ widely on what is considered excessive.
When high androgen levels cause hirsutism, other signs may appear over time, a process called virilization. They may include signs of virility:
- Deep voice
- Reduced breast size
- Increase muscle mass
- Enlargement of the clitoris
Your doctor will perform a physical examination to determine the extent of abnormal hair growth, as well as any other physical signs that may accompany hair growth, such as acne.
On the off chance that your hair development has been analyzed as hirsutism, your PCP may play out an assortment of tests, including blood tests to check hormone levels, ultrasound to picture the ovaries and uterus, certain x-rays, and extra tests to assess the ovaries and adrenal organs, to preclude other conditions.
If you have more facial or body hair than you need, there are various approaches to eliminate it.
- Weight loss. If you are overweight and low on pounds, your body may produce fewer male hormones.
- You can remove unwanted hair easily with a shaver or electric shaver. You may need to shave daily to prevent small hairs from growing. Some people get razor burns from frequent shaving, but a soothing cream may help.
- IUD or thread. There are different methods of plucking hair from the root. You can use tweezers. Or you can hire someone to “floss” – use a long, narrow strand to wrap around and remove all unwanted hair. These methods can cause pain and redness.
- A quick way to remove a lot of unwanted hair from the roots is with melted wax. Often, you can do this in a salon. The wax is applied to the skin and then quickly removed. It can cause pain and redness.
- Some creams contain strong chemicals called depilatories. You can apply the cream and leave it on for a while, and when you wipe it off, the hair gets in line with it. It can irritate sensitive skin, so test a small spot before using one on a large area.
- You can permanently remove hair with electrolysis, a service that strips hair from the roots with an electric current. After repeating the process several times, hair should stop growing in the treated areas.
- Laser hair removal. The heat of the laser can remove hair, but you need to repeat the process several times, and sometimes it will grow back. The treatment targets hair at the root, so it is painful and can damage your skin.
- Doctors can prescribe medications that change the way hair grows in the body. But when you stop using it, the hair will grow back.
- Birth control pills make the body produce fewer male hormones. With standard use, you should have less hair all over or body.
- Anti-androgens help your body make and use fewer male hormones.
- Eflornithine (Vaniqa) is a face cream that slows down hair growth as you apply it.
Hirsutism requires ongoing treatment. None of the treatments will completely fade the hair, but they do make the hair grow more slowly and help to significantly reduce the amount of unwanted hair. Most women are pleased with their results once they find an effective treatment regimen that works for them. Once an effective treatment is established, it may last indefinitely.