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Managing Hirsutism

Were you born balbon? Having a lot of body hair is a challenge for women, especially if they have extra hair on the arms, legs, underarms, and upper lip, but these are quickly solved with the common hair removal techniques such as shaving, waxing, depilatory creams, and lasers. Unfortunately, some women suffer from excessive body hair, such that they go beyond being balbon and grow visible hair in places where men usually have them, such as the chin, stomach, chest, or back. This may look unpleasant, especially for women, leading to distress and discomfort. At times, it may even affect their daily life and restrict them in doing some activities.

This is called Hirsutism. Let us learn how one can have it, if there is a cure for it, and the ways to manage this condition.

Unwanted body hairHirsutism is a medical condition where the hair growth pattern of a woman follows a male pattern, having visible hair in areas of the body where it is usually found in males.  When one has Hirsutism, the hair color and texture is also similar to a male’s body hair, dark and thick, as opposed to a woman’s body hair that is usually lighter in color, smoother in texture, and very much thinner. The volume and texture of hair growth is determined by the level of androgens an individual has. Usually, women have low levels of androgens, which is why they have fine, slightly visible hair on their body. When a woman has too much, it can cause physical manifestations similar to those of a male, such as excessive hair, acne, or a deeper voice. Males may have Hirsutism too, but is usually less obvious as males normally have more hair than females. The condition may be caused by different factors such as genetics, taking certain medications, or because of hormones. Usually, if one of your family members has it, chances are, you or other close family members have it as well. Among races, this condition has been reported to be common in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern communities. Hirsutism usually does not have an underlying medical condition. There may be times, however, that it might be the case, such as having Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), where there is an abnormality in a woman’s ovaries, leading to a hormone imbalance (an increase in androgen production) that may bring changes in a woman’s physical appearance, including having visible facial hair and an increase in the growth of body hair.

Sometimes, certain medications may also cause Hirsutism. Hormone-enhancing drugs such as testosterone and anabolic steroids are examples, so are drugs that promote hair growth such as minoxidil, and other medications used to treat other diseases such as cyclosporine. The physician may conduct a thorough medical examination on the patient to determine Hirsutism, such as knowing the individual’s medical and family history, performing x-rays, and other hormone exams. These tests are also necessary to identify if there is an underlying condition causing Hirsutism.

If the cause is another medical condition, its treatment will also alleviate Hirsutism. Stopping certain medications may also resolve excess hair growth. If Hirsutism is not caused by any medication or sickness, however, there are ways to keep hair from growing:

 

1. Shaving. This is the most common, most inexpensive, and fastest way to remove unwanted hair. One must be cautious in using the right razor, however, and in applying the right shaving technique.

2. Bleaching. This makes hair turn into a lighter color, but one has to be careful as the chemicals of some bleaching products may irritate or harm the skin.

3. Waxing. This is another inexpensive and easy way to remove hair, but regular waxing may also cause skin irritation.

4. Depilatories. This is effective and preferred by some as it softens and dislodges hair by the root, and when hair grows again, it is not blunt as when hair grows after shaving. Some creams, however, may also be too harsh for the skin.

5. Lasers. Another option to remove hair permanently is via laser. This is done by directing heat on sections of unwanted hair. The result of regrowth is thinner hair until such a time that it stops growing altogether. This arguably is the best mode of hair removal so far.

6. Eflornithine cream. This is applied after shaving or waxing to slow hair growth, but this must always be applied after hair removal. The effect happens after two to three months of consistent use.

7. Anti-androgens. These are oral medications that the doctor may prescribe, depending on the cause of Hirsutism or if the above methods are not enough for the patient. Examples of these are oral contraceptive pills, spironolactone, and finasteride. They must be taken in careful consideration as side effects are likely. These medications are not prescribed for pregnant women or children. Moreover, this may take months to notice an effect, and must be taken regularly. Hirsutism may return if discontinued.

 

Hirsutism, though not always accompanied by a medical condition, is understandably a cause for concern to women who have it. If you suspect that you might have this condition, like suddenly having male-pattern hair growth in a short span of time (in a year or two), developing other male characteristics such as a deeper voice or thinning hair on the scalp, all while having diabetes or is obese, please visit a physician immediately. Hirsutism has no cure, but it can be managed effectively by one treatment or a combination of thereof as recommended by a doctor. Find what works for you and live comfortably and freely without limitations.