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What Is Hirsutism? How Can You Address This Concern?

What Is Hirsutism? How Can You Address This Concern?

Several women are very particular about how they look, which also includes how much hair grows on the different parts of their body, such as in the upper lip. To which, some may feel conscious about it. What is hirsutism and how can you address your concerns about it?

What Is Hirsutism?

Hirsutism refers to the condition in which a woman’s hair grows excessively on different parts of the body, such as the following:

  • Face (specifically the upper lip, jawline)
  • Chest
  • Back
  • Upper arms
  • Lower abdomen
  • Buttocks
  • Upper legs (or inner thighs)

In addition to that, women who have it may have darker, thicker, longer hair than what is usual.

This condition is usually due to the high levels of male hormones, particularly the androgens. There are some women who may also have it due to menopausal hormonal changes, adrenal or even ovarian dysfunction.

Hirsutism is typically first noticed in the late adolescent years and worsens with age, but it usually responds to treatment.

What Is Hirsutism and Its Symptoms?

When people ask about what is hirsutism, they usually follow up with another question about symptoms. Aside from excessive hair growth on different parts, some signs and symptoms are as follows:

  • Acne
  • Irregular menstrual periods
  • Loss of feminine body shape
  • Decreased breast size
  • Signs of masculinity (i.e., deepening voice, increase in muscle mass, enlargement of shoulder muscles, balding, enlargement of the clitoris)

These symptoms normally occur in women who have high androgen levels. Hirsutism is also associated with another condition called virilization.

On the other hand, if it is due to Cushing Syndrome, symptoms may include the following:

  • Obesity
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Skin thinning

What Is Hirsutism and What Causes It?

Hirsutism can be passed down through families. Additionally, it could also be a result of:

  • Excessive production of androgens
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Disorders of the glands (i.e., pituitary, adrenal, thyroid glands)
  • Tumors on the ovaries, making extra androgens
  • Cushing syndrome
  • Use of steroids (anabolic or corticosteroids)
  • Use of medicines to treat endometriosis
  • Certain other medications that can cause hair growth (phenytoin, minoxidil, diazoxide, cyclosporine)
  • Severe insulin resistance
  • Hormonal changes due to menopause

Meanwhile, there are some cases wherein the root cause is left unknown. They refer to this as idiopathic hirsutism.

To be able to determine the extent of hair growth, the doctor will perform a physical examination. Aside from checking on the physical signs, the doctor may also run a series of tests to rule out other conditions.

What is Hirsutism and How Can You Treat it?

There are many different ways to remedy abnormal hair growth. It would only depend on the preference of the person who would want to take action for it.

Doctors may first recommend losing some weight if you are overweight. This can help with reducing the androgen levels that are causing the concern.

Some temporary yet easy topical remedies to remove hair at home are as follows:

  • Shaving
  • Waxing
  • Plucking
  • Bleaching
  • Depilatory creams
  • Prescription cream, lotion, or gel to slow down hair growth

You may also consider taking some medications, doing electrolysis, or even laser hair removal to treat hirsutism.

Key Takeaways

Hirsutism is a long-term condition wherein treatment and management are readily available for you.

You may either choose to do the removal of the excess right at the comfort of your home. Or, you may also seek medications or other means of treatment from your doctor to help you with your concern.

Learn more about Hair and Scalp Care here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Hirsutism, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hirsutism/symptoms-causes/syc-20354935#:~:text=Hirsutism%20 Accessed March 24, 2022

Excessive Hair Growth (Hirsutism), https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/14523-excessive-hair-growth-hirsutism Accessed March 24, 2022

Excessive hair growth (hirsutism), https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hirsutism/ Accessed March 24, 2022

Hirsutism, https://familydoctor.org/condition/hirsutism/ Accessed March 24, 2022

Hirsutism, https://dermnetnz.org/topics/hirsutism Accessed March 24, 2022

Hirsutism, https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/condition/hirsutism Accessed March 24, 2022

Hirsutism in Women (Excessive Body Hair Growth), https://www.cedars-sinai.org/health-library/diseases-and-conditions/h/hirsutism-in-women-excess-body-hair-growth.html Accessed March 24, 2022

 

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Written by Fiel Tugade Updated 4 weeks ago
Medically reviewed by Dexter Macalintal, MD