Hirsutism: Symptom, Causes, Complication, Treatment And Prevention
Hirsutism is a condition of unwanted, male-pattern hair growth in women. Hirsutism results in excessive amounts of coarse and pigmented hair on body areas where men typically grow hair — face, chest and back.
The amount of body hair you have is largely determined by your genetic makeup. Hirsutism may arise from excess male hormones called androgens, primarily testosterone. Or hirsutism may be due to an ethnic or family trait.
A combination of self-care and medical therapies provides effective treatment for many women with hirsutism.
The major sign of hirsutism is coarse and pigmented body hair, appearing on the body where women don’t commonly have hair — primarily the face, chest and back. When excessively high androgen levels cause hirsutism, other signs may develop over time, a process called virilization.
Until puberty, your body is covered with fine, colorless hairs called vellus hairs. When you begin to sexually mature, male s*x hormones called androgens help vellus hairs on certain areas of your body become dark, curlier and coarser hairs called terminal hairs. Unwanted terminal hair growth in women (hirsutism) can result from excess androgens or from an increased sensitivity of hair follicles to androgens.
About half the women with mild hirsutism have high androgen levels. Hirsutism that’s severe is usually due to high androgen levels.
Hirsutism can sometimes be emotionally distressing. Some women feel self-conscious about having unwanted body hair.
Treatment for hirsutism often involves a combination of self-care methods, hair-removal therapies and medications.
Hirsutism generally isn’t preventable. But if you have polycystic ovary syndrome, controlling obesity and preventing insulin resistance — a condition in which your body doesn’t respond to normal insulin levels — can result in lower androgen levels and less hirsutism.