Excessive hair growth is called hirsutism. Hirsutism is considered abnormal hair growth on the face or body, especially on a woman. Very dark or thick hair on the chin or lip area, stomach and even the chest are some examples. So why does this happen to women and what can be done to minimize or eliminate the unwanted hair?
Age and Hormones
As women age the production of estrogen often begins to falter. This results in lower levels of the female defining hormone estrogen, which balances out testosterone, or the male defining hormone. Testosterone naturally triggers hair growth in areas commonly accepted in male adults.
Hormonal imbalances can also be caused naturally through pregnancy, menopause and a hysterectomy. All of these conditions cause major swings in estrogen and testosterone which can result in what may be considered excessive or increased hair growth in certain areas.
If you have ancestry from the Middle East, South Asia or the Mediterranean there’s a good chance that this may be genetics.
What may be considered excessive hair growth in one country or culture may not be considered abnormal, but rather normal, in another. People greatly vary in the amounts of hair they have on their head, its thickness, color, texture and so forth. This is no different with body hair.
Generally speaking men have more facial and body hair than women. But even within men you’ll find a wide range– some that have sparse facial and body hair to those that are almost covered head to toe in dark, thick hair.
Certain medical conditions can also be the cause of abnormal hair growth in females. These conditions all have the shared symptom– abnormally high levels of the male hormone testosterone. The most common are polycystic ovarian syndrome, hypothyroidism, Cushing’s disease and even some tumors.
Medical conditions and hormone imbalances causing hirsutism in otherwise young and healthy women should be taken seriously and an appointment to see the doctor should be scheduled.
Some medications and even products that spur hair growth for thickening the hair on the head can cause excessive hair growth. Prescriptions such as anabolic steroids and medicine used for treating endometriosis can throw off hormonal balance and result in hirsutism. Rogaine has also been known to jump-start hair growth in places that women don’t want.
Hair Removal Solutions
Temporary: Shaving and depilatories (hair removal creams) last about a day or two. They are great for fast, and sometimes emergency hair removal, but the hair is still beneath the skin. When hair is dark and coarse, a ‘shadow’ often remains.
Semi-Permanent: Tweezing, threading, waxing, epilating and sugaring last weeks because they’re designed to uplift hair out from the follicle. They each have their pros and cons, especially for certain skin and hair types. Many of these options are best-suited to having a professional do the service rather than than a DIY session at home.
Permanent Removal or Reduction: Electrolysis is FDA approved for permanent hair removal and Laser is FDA approved for permanent hair reduction.
Hair Reducing Medications and Topicals
Medications formulated to reduce hair are prescribed by a physician. Make sure to tell the doctor you’re seeing about any other medications you are currently taking, especially those that have caused excessive hair growth in the first place.
Medicine that re-balance hormones such as birth control and androgen-blocking prescriptions can reduce hair growth. These medications are effective, but if usage is stopped, hair growth will begin again.
Vaniqa is also another option that uses a medicated topical to slow and reduce hair growth.