Understanding Excess Hair Growth in Women
Body hair is normal, and it exists for an evolutionary reason of keeping us warm. But too much of anything can be a warning signal of something unusual going on in your body.
Our society over centuries has normalized the view of feminine beauty as not having body hair. While most women take this in a stride and establish their means of getting rid of body hair, some women have a harder time than others because of the thick hair growth they experience.
All women have body hair, but the main difference between typical hair on a woman’s body and face (often called “peach fuzz”) and hair caused by hirsutism is the texture. Hirsutism is the condition in which excessive growth of dark, coarse, thick hair in a male-like pattern is seen above the lip and on the chin, chest, abdomen, and back.
So why does it occur?
Here are a few of the prominent reasons for excess hair growth in women:
1. PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome)
PCOS is a hormone imbalance that causes the body to produce too many androgens. It is by far the most common cause of hirsutism. The PCOS causes symptoms like cysts in the ovaries, high levels of male hormones, and irregular or skipped periods.
PCOS can be diagnosed by physical examination, medical and family history, blood tests and sonography.
Other symptoms of PCOS include thinning of hair on the head, acne, fatigue, mood swings, obesity, and even infertility.
2. Cushing Syndrome
Cushing Syndrome occurs when your body is exposed to high levels of Stress Hormones or Cortisol for very long periods.
Weight gain, Stretch marks, Irregular Periods are other symptoms that one might face when diagnosed with Cushing Syndrome.
3. Adrenal Hyperplasia
Adrenal Hyperplasia is an inherited disorder that affects the adrenal glands resulting in low levels of cortisol and high levels of male hormones. This causes the development of male characteristics (like excessive hair growth) in females and early puberty in both boys and girls.
Adrenal Hyperplasia is a rare group of disorders that can cause severe symptoms.
4. Other reasons
Hereditary hirsutism is also a common phenomenon, especially in certain ethnic groups.
A tumour that releases androgens, thyroid disorders, side effects of medication, and Hyperprolactinemia are other uncommon causes of hirsutism.
Should I be worried?
The above information makes it clear that excess facial or body hair is often a symptom of an underlying medical condition. If you experience severe or rapid hair growth on your face or body or any other unusual symptom over a couple of months, then please consult an endocrinologist and a dermatologist.
If the doctor suspects that you may have an underlying condition, they will order some basic blood tests and sonography to understand the primary reason behind the hirsutism. Based on the results, your doctor will prescribe the appropriate medication for hormone management.
While some of the above-mentioned conditions can be serious, it is not something one should panic about. Your treating doctor will take a multifactorial approach with medications, lifestyle modifications, exercise, dietary changes, and so on to treat the underlying condition and help you gain control of your health by managing the symptoms.
Issues concerning your physical appearance
As far as the issues concerning your physical appearance like acne, dense hair growth, hair thinning, etc are concerned, a good dermatologist’s treatments can do wonders for you. While Laser hair removal is found to be extremely effective for reducing thick coarse hair, medications and chemical peels can help reduce acne substantially.
Consistent Shaving, Chemical hair removal, waxing, bleaching, Creams, and Electrolysis are other common ways of dealing with the issue. The first and most important step is to consult a good dermatologist.
It is crucial to understand that excessive or unwanted body and facial hair is a medical condition and must be attended to by professionals irrespective of your idea of feminine beauty. This condition can be a long-term challenge and must be treated with patience and sincerity. Do not hesitate from taking the help of mental health professionals, friends, and family to cope if the condition makes you self-conscious.
And always remember that with the right kind of treatment, you can easily say goodbye to these issues.
Built on more than a decade of experience of Dr. Sejal Saheta, we are an honest and affordable skin and hair care clinic in Mumbai. Our goal is to make each patient comfortable and happy with their appearance with the least amount of intervention.
Our qualified and trained doctors, equipped with the latest technology, conduct and supervise all procedures in strict adherence to protocols developed by Dr. Sejal.
We are happy to be a part of your journey to reach your health goals. If you think we have been able to help you, please do review us:
On Practo: http://prac.to/vkpj
On Google: https://goo.gl/zHfACo
This article is one in a series of articles on skin conditions by Dr. Sejal Saheta – MD, DNB -Dermatology and Venereology. The objective of this series is to educate the reader and help them take precautions against various skin conditions they come across on an everyday basis. These articles are not meant to be used by patients for self-diagnosis or for avoiding proper medical treatment. The images used in the above blog are only for visual representation purposes. Actual results may vary from patient to patient.