What is Hirsutism?
Women usually have fine and faintly visible hair on the face and body. But sometimes this hair becomes coarse and thick making it highly visible. Hirsutism is a condition where women start to grow coarse or dark-coloured hair on the body and face. It can be due to certain medical conditions or due to hormonal changes in the body. It occurs in a small percentage of women and depends on the definition of a normal amount of hair. It usually happens as part of ageing and especially after menopause.
The symptoms of hirsutism depend on the severity of the condition. If it is in a mild form then there is a growth of hair on the chin, upper lip, sideburns, lower abdomen and around the nipples. The colour of the hair may be the same as that of the scalp.
- If the hirsutism is more advanced, the hair appears thick and mature and grows on the upper abdomen, back and shoulders.
- Advanced hirsutism begins during puberty or just at the onset of it.
- Hirsutism not only causes unwanted hair growth on the face and body it also has symptoms of oily skin and acne.
- Results in a deeper voice
- Hair loss or alopecia or receding hairline
- The clitoris is enlarged.
Who is at Risk?
Several risk factors can increase the likelihood of developing hirsutism:
- Women who have a family history of this condition are at a higher risk. Several conditions like congenital adrenal hyperplasia, PCOS run in families.
- Women who are obese have an increased androgen production and results in hirsutism.
- Taking certain medications can increase androgen production and result in unwanted hair growth.
- Women of South Asian, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean origin have more body hair and hence there is a high likelihood of this condition.
- Women with medical conditions like Cushing’s syndrome produce excess androgen and develop hirsutism.
The reasons for hirsutism is not known but there are several conditions that can cause it which includes:
- Production of higher than normal androgen in the body. Though androgen is produced in a female body it is in smaller quantities. If it increases more than normal it develops hirsutism.
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome, PCOS is one of the reasons for overproduction of androgen. Among many things like irregular menstrual periods, weight gain, infertility and acne, this is a cause of Hirsutism also.
- Happens during menopause where there is an increase in facial hair due to hormonal changes.
- Disorders of the adrenal glands, ovaries, etc can result in other symptoms of this condition like the deeper voice or increase in muscle mass.
- Certain steroids, corticosteroids can also be behind the development of this condition.
How is Hirsutism Diagnosed?
For the hirsutism diagnosis, the doctor will closely examine the medical history of a person with special attention paid to the menstrual cycle.
- If the hirsutism onset and irregular menstruation are recent then different tests will be conducted to determine the condition of the ovaries, pituitary and adrenal glands. Based on the tests, the physician will refer to an endocrinologist.
- Blood tests are done to check the testosterone levels and also to check for PCOS and tumours. It is also done to check the level of prolactin which is a sign of a tumour.
- If there is an abnormality found in some of the tests above, MRI for the brain, ultrasound for ovaries and CT scan of adrenal glands is ordered to know the cause of hirsutism.
How is Hirsutism Treated?
The options for Hirsutism treatment include:
- Medical treatment for managing conditions like PCOS or adrenal disorders so that it controls the production of unwanted hair.
- Hormone management can be done in the form of providing birth control pills or medicine for hirsutism to balance hormones.
- Topical creams are prescribed to reduce facial hair growth
- Hair removal techniques are a nonmedical way to remove unwanted hair which requires continued attention.
- Laser hair removal is an option if you need a permanent or near-permanent solution.
- Electrolysis is another option for permanent hair removal.
Hirsutism that is caused for nonmedical reasons is harmless. But it can affect self-confidence for some. If you want to get rid of this unwanted hair, book an appointment with our hirsutism doctor at Cure.fit for effective treatment.
How can Hirsutism be Prevented?
Prevention is better than looking around for hirsutism cure. Some of the measures are:
- Maintaining a healthy weight so that you are not overweight. It also helps to control androgen production.
- Manage your food intake by consuming a more healthy diet as that reduces the chances of obesity.
- Eat food that is rich in legumes, vegetables and fruits as that controls blood sugar levels and production of hormones.
- Consume food rich in Vitamin B, magnesium and chromium reduces glucose resistance.