What is Hirsutism?
Hirsutism is a condition in which male patterned hair growth is seen in woman. This condition usually is seen where men typically grow hair, such as on the chest, the face, and the back. The hair is stiff and pigmented and is grown in excessive amounts. There is not a determined amount of hair that is grown. This will be based solely on your genetic makeup. Those at higher risk for developing hirsutism include those that are from the Middle East, South Asia, and the Mediterranean. If there is a family history of polycystic ovary syndrome or congenital adrenal hyperplasmia, there is a greater chance of one developing hirsutism.
Hirsutism is caused by the following:
- Polycystic ovary syndrome- An imbalance of sex hormones that can result in obesity, irregular periods, infertility and multiply cysts on the ovaries. It is a very common condition to have.
- Tumors- While this is rare, an androgen secreting tumor in the ovaries or the adrenal glands can cause hirsutism.
- Cushing ‘s Syndrome- The body is exposed to high levels of cortisol. Taking medications such as Prednisone can make the body produce too much of this or it can be produced when the adrenal glands make too much cortisol.
- Medications- Some medications are known to cause hirsutism. Danaszol has been known to cause it.
- Congenital adrenal hyperplasmia- This condition has an abnormal production of steroid hormones by the adrenal glands and is inherited. The steroid hormones include androgen and cortisol.
Possible complications with Hirsutism
There are some complications that go with hirsutism. There are no real physical complications that are associated with this skin condition, however, many times woman that have this are self conscious due to the extra hair in places it should not be located at on females. Irregular periods are often a symptom due to the underlying cause of polycystic ovary syndrome, which can inhibit fertility in woman. Medications taken for hirsutism may also cause birth defects.
Hirsutism Symptoms and Tests
Should you suspect you have hirsutism, you will need to see a doctor or dermatologist. Tests will be done to see the levels of hormones in the blood, such as testosterone. An ultrasound or CT scan may also be needed if the androgen levels are elevated. These tests will check the ovaries and adrenal glands for tumors or cysts.
There are many different treatments for hirsutism. These include birth control, which have to have progestin and estrogen, that will slow the androgen production in the ovaries. Side effects for birth control include headaches, nausea, upset stomach and dizziness.
Anti-androgens can be taken for hirsutism as well. These drugs will prevent androgens from attacking onto a receptor in the body. Do keep in mind that birth control should be taken with these as these drugs can cause birth defects. You must consult your doctor prior to undertaking any treatments.
To remove the unwanted hair for good, one can use either laser therapy or electrolysis. With laser therapy, the laser will damage the hair follicles as it is passed over the skin, and new hair will be prevented from growing. Under electrolysis, a tiny needle is inserted into each hair follicle, with an electric current being sent to damage and destroy the follicle.
There are some self care temporary methods one can consider to deal with the excess hair. One can try plucking or shaving the hair off. Plucking is good for a small area, but would not work well with a large patch of hair. Shaving is quick and effective, but will have to be regularly maintained to not get stubble. Waxing is often used for those that want to remove unwanted hair. And chemical depilatories work to break down the protein structure of the hair shaft.