What is it?
Excess hair or Hirsutism in women is the excess growth of dark and coarse hair over different regions of the body where it normally doesn’t grow, such as the face and back.
It is usually a symptom of an underlying problem rather than a medical condition in its own right. In most cases, the underlying problem is polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which is often associated with irregular menstrual cycles, acne, obesity, infertility and an increased risk of diabetes and osteoporosis.
Women develop excessive body or facial hair due to higher-than-normal levels of androgens, including testosterone. All females produce androgens, but the levels typically remain low. Certain medical conditions can cause a woman to produce too many androgens. This can cause male-pattern hair growth.
Some of the usual symptoms of Excess hair syndrome or Hirsuitism are:
- A sudden change in hair colour, rate of growth, thickness or distribution
- Excessive body hair in typically ‘male’ areas of the body such as the face, back, abdomen, inner thighs and buttocks.
- Hair loss on the scalp
- Other skin conditions such as acne or seborrhoea
- Development of warts within skin folds
- Masculine characteristics such as deepened voice or increased muscle mass
- Irregular or absent menstrual periods
- High levels of insulin
Some of the common causes for excess hair are:
- Cushing's Syndrome
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
- Presence of tumors in the ovaries or the adrenal glands that produce hormones like cortisol
- Certain medications
The treatment options that doctors usually recommend are:
- Medications to block the effects of androgens
- Anti-androgen medications to reduce the body’s ability to produce androgen
- Medications to help stop the productionof androgens in the ovaries, such as the oral contraceptive pill
- Insulin medications if hyperinsulinaemia is present
- Surgical removal of an adrenal or ovarian tumour
- Combination birth control pills