Hirsutism - Health Center


By Refadoc, Posted on : Tuesday, 15 September 2015 - 10:46 am IST

Hirsutism – Basic Information

Hirsutism is a condition which leads to the production of unwanted, male pattern hair growth amongst women. Hirsutism leads to an excessive amount of stiff and pigmented hair over the body areas, especially the face, chest and the back.

A person’s genetic makeup largely determines the amount of body hair. Hirsutism arises due to excessive amount of male hormones, known as androgens, primarily testosterone. Hirsutism also comes across as a family trait in some cases.

Proper self care and medical therapies can provide an effective treatment for women suffering from Hirsutism. 

Causes of Hirsutism:

During puberty, a girl’s ovaries tend to begin producing both male and female sex hormones. This causes the growth of hair in the armpits and the pubic area. Hirsutism occurs when the mix of hormones becomes unbalanced due to a high proportion of male sex hormones, androgens.

The following are the major causes of Hirsutism:

  1. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: This condition is caused due to an imbalance of the sex hormones which results in irregular periods, obesity, infertility and multiple cysts over the ovaries.
  2. Cushing ’s syndrome: Cushing’s Syndrome occurs when the body is exposed to a high amount of Cortisone. When the adrenal glands secrete too much cortisol or due to an excessive amount of medications such as prednisone, this condition can occur.
  3. Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia: It is an inherited condition which leads to an abnormal production of the steroid hormones such as Cortisol and Androgen.
  4. Medications: Certain medications such as Danazol, which is used to treat the women suffering from Endometriosis can cause Hirsutism.

Signs and Symptoms of Hirsutism:

One of the most common symptoms of Hirsutism is the production of stiff and pigmented body hair amongst women. These pigmented hairs appear over the areas uncommon areas such as the face, chest and the back.

Since high levels of androgen cause Hirsutism, some of the other symptoms too may develop over the passage of time. This process is known as Virilization. The major symptoms of Virilization are as follows:

  1.       Deepening of the voice
  2.       Balding
  3.       Excessive acne
  4.       Decrease in the breast size
  5.       Enlargement of the clitoris

Tests and Diagnosis of Hirsutism:

Tests which can measure the amount of hormones in the blood stream, including Testosterone are used to determine whether a person is suffering from Hirsutism of not. Since high androgen levels are one of the major symptom of the condition, if the bloodstream has a high level of androgen, the doctors may suggest an ultrasound or a CT scan in order to check the ovaries and the adrenal glands of the affected person in order to look for cysts or tumours.

Treatment and Drugs for Hirsutism:

Treatment options for Hirsutism include a combination of self care methods, therapies and medications.

Medications: The following are the major medications which are used to treat Hirsutism:

  1. Oral Medications: Birth control pills and hormonal contraceptives consisting of the hormones, estrogen and progestin are used to treat the condition. These medications inhibit the production of androgen by the ovaries and are a common treatment option for women who don’t want to become pregnant.
  2. Anti Androgens: These kinds of drugs are used to block the androgens from attaching to the receptors in the body. Spironolactone is the most commonly used anti androgen.
  3. Topical Creams: Vaniqa is a prescription cream which is used to deal with excessive facial hair in case of women. It can be applied directly to the affected areas of the face and helps to stop the growth of the hair.

In order to remove the unwanted hair completely, the following procedures are used:

  1. Electrolysis: This treatment is used to remove excessive facial hair by inserting a tiny needle into the hair follicle. This needle emits an electrical pulse in order to damage and destroy the follicle.
  2. Laser Therapy: In this, a beam of laser is passed over the skin in order to damage the hair follicles and preventing any further growth of the hair. Skin redness and swelling are some of the major side effects of this therapy.
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