Facial Hair

FACIAL HAIR woman

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

Overview

The growth of facial hair in the form of mustaches and beards is a change that signals puberty in males. This is a reflection of increased levels of male hormones in the body. Women do have facial hair as well but this is of a finer quality as compared to male facial hair that tends to be thicker and coarser. Such soft, downy hair is referred to as ‘peach fuzz’ because it resembles the fine hairs that lend a fuzzy texture to the surface of ripe peaches. However, certain medical conditions can cause women to develop excessive facial hair like that of men. This is usually attributed to hormonal imbalance.

 

What is unwanted facial hair?

FACIAL HAIR removalThe growth of unwanted facial and body hair in women is known as hirsutism. Normal, healthy women do have facial hair and body hair but this is usually finer, softer and lighter in color than in men. Men tend to have coarser and thicker body hair and facial hair in comparison. When, a woman starts developing such coarse, dark hair on her face and body, this is a sign of an underlying hormonal imbalance. Its growth patterns resemble those of normal facial and body hair growth in men. Thus, women suffering from hirsutism will typically find the abnormal growth of coarse, dark hair on areas such as the face, neck, chest, back, and thighs.

Usually, hirsutism is caused by increased proportions of male hormones (androgens) in the female body. Sometimes, these hormone imbalances occur as a result of normal age-related changes around the time of menopause. Other times, the underlying cause is a medical disorder.

 

What is responsible for hirsutism in women?

There are two main conditions under which hirsutism can manifest. The first involves increased levels of male hormones (androgens) in the female body. The second involves normal levels of androgens but an increased sensitivity of the hair follicles towards these androgens. The latter condition is more likely in the premenopausal individuals.

Women’s bodies do produce small quantities of male hormones known as androgens. This includes testosterone. When the proportion of androgens in the female body rises higher than the normal limits, or when the body is abnormally sensitive to them, the woman begins to exhibit certain bodily changes associated with males. It can also adversely affect her menstrual cycle. The growth of excess body hair and hair is only one possible outward sign of such a hormonal imbalance.

Causes and risk factors for hirsutism include:

  • Hormonal changes associated with aging and menopause.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome.
  • Being very overweight or obese.
  • Disorders of the adrenal glands. These include Cushing syndrome, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, and adrenal cancer.
  • Acromegaly, an endocrine disorder affecting the pituitary gland and causing it to secrete too much growth hormone.
  • Taking certain drugs such as anabolic steroids, certain immunosuppressants and some medications for hypertension.
  • Tumors causing the excess production of androgens. These can appear on the ovaries or the adrenal glands.
  • Having a family history of hirsutism or disorders giving rise to it is known to increase the likelihood of developing the condition.
  • Belonging to certain ethnic groups. Women of South Asian, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Native American origin are more likely to suffer from hirsutism.

 

What are the Signs of Hirsutism?

FACIAL HAIR pluckingHirsutism is not a disease. Rather, it is a symptom of an underlying problem. It is characterized by the growth of thick, coarse and dark hair in areas such as the upper lip, chin, back, buttocks and thighs. This may be accompanied by other signs of virilization or appearance of changes more often associated with male bodies. These include:

  • Deepening of the voice
  • Acne and oily skin.
  • Enlargement of the clitoris.
  • Reduction in breast size.
  • Increased libido.
  • Infrequent periods or other changes in the menstrual cycle.

 

Clinical Complications

Hirsutism is not a severe medical condition. It does not produce lasting changes in the body. It tends to resolve when the underlying causes are addressed. However, the condition responsible for it can have critical implications. For instance, polycystic ovary syndrome can cause infertility and pregnancy complications. Cushing syndrome can cause complications such as sexual dysfunction and hypertension. Hirsutism in itself is a benign condition although it can cause patients to feel embarrassed and anxious.

 

How is Hirsutism Diagnosed?

Hirsutism is clearly apparent upon physical examination. However, the process of diagnosis does not end here. It is important to determine the condition responsible for causing such abnormal hair growth. The following procedures are useful:

  • Medical history and family history. The patient may have a personal history of a disorder such as polycystic ovary syndrome or endocrine disorders responsible for hirsutism. They may also have a family history of similar conditions. The patient may also be taking medications that could cause hirsutism.
  • Blood tests are useful in assessing hormone levels and detecting endocrine disorder.
  • Pelvic ultrasonography is useful in detecting conditions such as polycystic ovaries.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computerized tomography (CT) helps assess the condition of the adrenal glands and detect abnormalities such as tumors or hyperplasia.

 

Treatment and prevention

FACIAL HAIR womanTreatment – Primary hirsutism can be treated medically. Medical treatment involves bleaching or physical removal of hair.

  • Electrolysis – Removing hair using electric current. It treats each hair follicle individually hence it can be a long process.
  • Shaving– It is the quickest and most inexpensive technique of hair removal. It needs to be done regularly, as it only removes the hair from the surface and not the follicles.
  • Tweezing – This method is useful in case there is fewer number of hair strands to remove.
  • Waxing – This method involves applying warm wax on the area of the unwanted hair. Once the wax dries up it is pulled, thus resulting in hair removal. Though it is an effective and immediate treatment measure, there will be a need to get it done repetitively.
  • Using hair removal cream (depilatories) – Here chemical foam is used to removed hair.
  • Laser treatment – Here concentrated light rays are used to damage hair follicles. Damaged hair follicles cannot produce hair, and the hair that is present falls out.
  • Oral contraceptives – Birth control pills or any other contraceptive pills treat hirsutism by producing estrogen and progestin, thereby treating hirsutism caused by androgen. This is an effective method of treatment for those women who do not wish to conceive.
  • Anti-androgen – These are prescribed after 6 months of using oral contraceptives if the oral contraceptives are not effective. These pills inhibit androgen getting attached to their receptors in the body.
  • Bleaching – This helps in removing the pigment in order to camouflage excess facial hair in women.

Prevention – Hirsutism is generally not preventable. There are certain things that you can do to reduce your facial hair growth.

  • Make sure you know what is causing your facial hair growth. If it is medications, avoid those particular medications.
  • Reduce stress levels. Increased stress and anxiety levels can cause hormonal imbalances thus causing facial hair growth.
  • Maintain a stable and healthy diet. If you have PCOS, hyperthyroidism, Cushing’s syndrome or congenital adrenal hyperplasia follow the necessary and accurate dietary plan. If the dietary plan is not followed, it can lead to facial hair growth.
  • Maintaining your weight is rather important if you are hirsutism, especially in the case of PCOS.

 

Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Make sure to get a full hormone check-up done regularly.
  • Maintain your weight.
  • Indulge in moderate exercise.
Don'ts
  • Indulge in smoking and reduce alcohol consumption.
  • Ignore your diet. In case, you have excess facial hair growth due to PCOS or hyperthyroidism, make sure to understand and follow the dietary measures for them.
  • Skip any meals or lose out on your sleep, as these cause a fluctuation in hormones resulting in unwanted facial hair.

 

 

 

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CT – Computed Tomography Scan CT scan or computed tomography scan is an diagnostic imaging technique where cross-sectional images of body are obtained…
kidney stones
Kidney stones Kidney stones are solid substances made up of crystals. They can be of various sizes. Treatment depend on…
Trisodium Phosphate: How a paint thinner made its way into your breakfast Ever thought how toxic chemicals find their way into our foods? How can they harm our body? And…
ureteroscopy
Ureteroscopy Ureteroscopy is the diagnostic procedure which is used for the detection of the kidney stones in addition to…
Rubella IgM test
Rubella IgM Test The Rubella IgM test is a blood test that is performed to diagnose the presence of the rubella…
lp-pla2
LP-PLA2 Test The LP-PLA2 test is a test which is carried out to assess the levels of Lipoprotein-Associated Phospholipase A2…
shiitake mushrooms healthy
What are Shiitake Mushrooms and why should you eat them? Shiitake Mushrooms are well known for their smoky and robust taste. However, did you know they are replete…
beta hcg test
Beta hCG Test A Beta hCG test measures the level of human gonadotropin hormones present in the blood that is primarliy…
Tart Cherry: The healthiest excuse for taking that second serving of pie Tart cherry has been traditionally used in delectable desserts such as pies. Recent studies have revealed that its…
yoga health benefits
How to practice yoga for astounding health benefits Can a 5000-year-old system be the ultimate body healer? Did you know yoga can make you smarter and…
Vitamin b12
Vitamin B12 Test Vitamin b12 is an essential nutrient required for healthy functioning of the nervous system and also development of…
Chlorella: Therapeutic powers of the billion-year-old algae now within your reach Chlorella - A billion year old nutrient-rich algae that can potentially ward off cancers and high cholesterol; the…
Chest X-Ray A chest x-ray is a diagnostic test that uses x-rays to visualize the structures inside your chest. It…
social media adddiction
Your health in the age of Social Media: Why is digital detox a necessity? Did you know that more than 400 million people are dangerously addicted to social media? Are you one…
hepatitis B envelope antigen
Hepatitis B Envelope Antigen (HBeAg) The HBeAg or hepatitis B envelope antigen test is a screening test used to diagnose the onset of…
Exercises or diet? Find out the healthiest way to gain weight Tired of being called skinny all the time? Looking for healthy ways to beef up? Why not try…
blood elements analysis
Vitamin Profile Your doctor will recommend you undergo the vitamin profile test if you are showing signs of either vitamin…
woman with abdominal pain holding ovulation calendar
Ovulation – facts to know about ovulation Learn how and when ovulation occurs, demystify common misconceptions, identify symptoms, methods of detection and right period for…
beta 2 glycoprotein 1 igm
Beta 2 Glycoprotein 1 IgM The Beta 2 glycoprotein 1 IgM test detects IgM class of antibodies in the blood.The presence of beta-2…
beta alanine energy powder
Beta-alanine: A powerhouse of proteins to charge up your workout How can a simple amino acid be a crucial health supplement for champion athletes? Find out how you…
apolipoprotein a1 test
Apolipoprotein -A1 (APO-A1) Test Apolipoprotein A-I (Apo-A1) constitutes 70% of protein content in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and helps in lipid metabolism.
Low fat diets
A complete list of low-fat diets and how to follow them Low-fat diets help you lose weight in a healthy way, but it works only with regular exercise and…
Mood swings
The real reasons for your mood swings and how to overcome them Are you prone to heated moods frequently? Do you also feel bouts of depressive feeling creeping up on…
anti-chlamydia antibody tets
Anti-Chlamydia Antibody -IgG Test Anti-Chlamydia Antibody - IgG test is performed by collection of urine or genital fluids as sample for testing…
Find all the instant ways to get rid of blackheads Blackheads - Not only are they aesthetically unappealing but if left untreated these can cause bacterial overgrowth on…
GM Diet: The fastest way to lose weight or yet another hoax diet? General Motors started this trend of extreme dieting for 7 straight days to ensure its employees were able…
vital organ diseases
Common diseases that could cripple your vital organs Brain, heart, kidney, lungs, and liver - these vital organs are indeed vital for your survival. However, these…
antiHEV IgM test
Anti hepatitis E virus (Anti HEV) IgM Test Anti HEV IgM test determines the level of the IgM antibodies in the blood, The disease is often…
Creatine: Is this the right peak athletic-performance supplement for you? Creatine is the amino acid that boosts our energy. Did you know creatine supplements can help you reach…
Bloodtestalbumin
Albumin Test Albumin test or blood serum test is a liver function test that measures the amount of the protein…
GERD heartburn
Heartburn: What are the exact symptoms and the best home remedies? There are easy home remedies for heartburn, which not only acts as a first aid when you experience…
Balneotherapy jacuzzi
5 things you didn’t know about balneotherapy and how you can do it at home Sauna baths have been popular since a long time. But how much more beneficial can balneotherapy be as…
eating disorder anorexia
Eating Disorders: Lifestyle choice or a psychological condition? Is eating disorder just a harmless bad habit? Or does it represent grim psychological disorders? Do you want…
hidden causes obesity
8 hidden causes of obesity you probably didn’t know! Did you know that around 2 billion people worldwide are either overweight or obese? Are you too a…
myelogram
Myelography Myelography is an important diagnostic tool that is used to investigate and identify abnormalities in the spine and…
tonometry
Tonometry Tonometry uses a device called tonometer to measure the pressure inside the eye. This pressure is depends upon…
shakeology woman
Meal replacement or protein drink? Learn all about Shakeology and its claims Shakeology from Beachbody claims to be the most suitable shake that can aid in weight loss, regulate blood…

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