Excessive hair growth on the face and body of a woman-Hirsutism

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A condition characterized with excessive growth of coarse or color hair on the face and other parts of the female body is known as hirsutism. While it is normal for a woman to have fine, pale, faintly visible facial hair, however, when it spread to other part of the body it is often linked to a medical condition. It mostly happens in women with high levels of androgen hormones usually present in men.

 

Symptoms

Excessive presence of matured hair on the upper lip, chin, sideburn, nipples, shoulders, lower and upper abdominal area
Oily skin
Enlarged clitoris
Deep voice
Oily skin
Pain
Hair Loss
Receded hair line

 

Causes
The main cause of hirsutism in women is due to high levels of androgens in women. It could also be as a result of oversensitivity of hair follicles to androgens. Other causes include:

Increased circulating levels of insulin in women
Diabetes
High cholesterol
Side effects of androgen therapy and drug

 
Diagnosis

The doctor will have to undertake a review of the medical history of the patient particularly the menstrual cycle.

In a patient with normal and regular menstrual periods, hirsutism’s cause is congenital. On the other hand, polycystic ovarian syndrome may be responsible for excessive hair growth in patient with persistent irregular menstrual periods.

However, if there is sudden appearance of excessive hair growth followed with sudden menstrual irregularities, there is need to carry out laboratory investigations/tests to check for possible severe condition such as ovarian tumor, adrenal gland tumor or the pituitary gland tumor.

Hormone profile tests particularly testosterone and prolactin are also useful in diagnosing this condition.

Blood sugar and cholesterol levels can also help in the diagnosis.

Imaging tests such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain, computed tomography (CT) scan of the adrenal glands and an ultrasound of the ovaries are all important in diagnosing hirsutism.

 
Treatment

The nature and cause of hirsutism will determine the treatment options. The available treatment options include:

Reducing insulin level

Shedding of weight to reduce androgen level

Usage of cosmetic cream and wax to get rid of the excessive hair growth

Plucking and shaving the hair on the face and the body

Using laser hair-removal techniques which produce heat inside hair follicles to weaken the ability of hair to grow from the follicle.

Using some birth control pills containing estrogen and progesterone to neutralize the masculine effects of androgen hormones and reduce the secretion of testosterone by the ovary.

 
Prevention

Having a healthy diet and regular exercise to control weight and minimize the risk of developing diabetes and increased cholesterol level play significant role in averting hirsutism.

Desisting from intake of drugs which can expose one to having excessive hair growth on the face and the body can also help in preventing the risk.

It should be emphasized that pregnant women should desist from using anti-androgen medications.



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