Hirsutism

Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

for Excessive Hairiness in Women

What is Hirsutism or unwanted facial hair condition?

Hirsutism is a condition in women which is characterized by excessive hair growth on face, chest, and back in male-like pattern. The hair growth is dark or coarse in texture. The term has been derived from the 17th century Latin word ‘Hirsutus’ meaning hairiness.  

What are the symptoms of Hirsutism unwanted facial hair condition?

(symptoms) Bodies where Hirsutism is Measured

Stiff dark hair on the face, back, chest, lower abdomen and inner thighs are the chief symptoms of hirsutism.

The mild form of excess facial hair growth condition shows symptoms such as growth of hair in the upper lips, chin, sideburn region, lower abdominal region and around the nipples.

Advanced form of the condition often produces symptom like growth of coarse hair on the back, upper abdomen, shoulders, chest and facial regions.

When hirsutism is caused due to elevated level of androgen (male sex hormone), other symptoms might appear over time indicating a process called virilization. The symptoms are:

  • Acne
  • Deepening voice
  • Increased muscle mass
  • Enlargement of the clitoris
  • Balding

What causes unwanted facial hair?

Some of the most common causes are:

Causes of Hirsutism in females

Cushing Syndrome

Cushing Syndrome is a hormonal disorder caused by increased levels of the cortisol hormone in the body. It may be the result of cortisol treatment for conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or asthma. Tumors in the pituitary gland or adrenal cortex can also be a cause. Hirsutism is one of the chief symptoms associated with this syndrome with other symptoms of abnormal skin conditions.

PCOS

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a hormonal imbalance problem caused by fluctuations in androgen, progesterone and insulin hormone. It is characterized by multiple cysts in the ovaries that in due course affect the fertility status of the patient. Often beginning in puberty hirsutism and irregular periods are some of the chief symptoms of PCOS.

Effect of medications

Medicines

Drugs like androgens, glucocorticoids, oestrogen antagonists, Minoxidil and cyclosporine used for a variety of systemic conditions can result in hirsutism as a side-effect.  Danzole – a drug used in the treatment of endometriosis – results in facial hair as a part of medicine’s effects on the body.

Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH)

Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH)

CAH is a genetic disorder encompassing a group of autosomal recessive disorders characterized by enzyme deficiency and problematic synthesis of cortisol. It is the cortisol imbalance that results in hirsutism and other complications in this case.

Physical, mental, social and emotional impact of having excess facial hair

A woman with excess facial hair condition has low confidence level and high stress levels. The stress often projects in the form of physical issues which have no underlying reason.

Stress plays a major role. Women dealing hirsutism or unwanted facial hair have imbalanced mental health. In some cases, women also develop anxiety disorders or depression as result of elevated stress levels.

Stress levels and anxious feelings play havoc with the sufferer’s emotional health well-being. An imbalanced emotional health repeatedly causes health issues.

Women with excess facial hair tend to isolate themselves. Often times, they are not keen on going out, meeting new people. Hirsutism cages women.

Who is at risk?

  • People with family history of conditions like hirsutism, PCOD and CAF
  • Women of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and South Asian ancestry
  • Obesity is another risk factor that can lead to hormonal imbalance and accelerate the condition

Is excess facial hair contagious?

Excess facial hair or hirsutism is a hormonal disorder caused by imbalance of hormones due to various reasons. It is not contagious and should not be regarded as such. Any contagious disease however severe eventually goes away but hirsutism is permanent resulting in lifelong social stigma of the patient.

Is it curable?

Once the problem starts, unwanted facial hair condition is usually irreversible. With proper care and treatment the symptoms can be managed through medical and cosmetic interventions. Often taking care of the risk factors can take care of the problem to a substantial extent.

In women with PCOD, losing weight through diet and exercise can prevent the problem to a great extent. A balanced lifestyle, proper intake of nutrients and avoiding refined and sugary foods can go a long way in its prevention.

What are the treatment options available?

The treatment options for excess facial hair condition consist of:

Methods of hair removal for Hirsutism

Medications

Medications are usually given in the form of hormone balancing treatments to take care of the hormonal imbalance behind the condition. Oral contraceptives and anti-androgens are a few of them. While oral contraceptives balance the androgen, anti-androgens work by preventing the androgens from attaching themselves to the androgen receptors.

Surgical interventions

Laser therapy and electrolysis are some of the most common surgical interventions adopted by the health care professionals when medicines don’t produce satisfactory results. The aim of surgical interventions is to damage unwanted hair follicles to prevent them from growing.

Is Vaniqa the ultimate treatment option for excess facial hair?

Eflornithine or Vaniqa cream is by far the only recognized topical solution for the condition. Vaniqa is an essential amino acid that works on inhibiting the anagen phase and promoting the telogen phase of the hair follicles to prevent hair growth on unwanted areas of the body. Vaniqa can be used on its own or in combination with laser techniques to achieve best results in hirsutism patients and improve their self-esteem. You can buy Vaniqa cream online in UK or from a registered pharmacy with a prescription.

Does Vaniqa cure unwanted facial hair condition?

Vaniqa slows down hair growth. It doesn’t cure the condition. There are four different growth phases of a human hair follicle out of which the shedding phase and growth phase are most vital. When applied in a thin layer over the affected surface, it encourages shedding phase with inhibiting the growth phase to treat the condition. It is not a permanent cure. On discontinuing the treatment over a period of time, hair follicles will gradually revert to their original state.
Medically reviewed by
Medically reviewed by

Dr.John smith
MRCGP DFSRH DPD DRCOG
Written by our editorial team

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