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There are women who feel their looks are spoilt because of the presence of excessive body hair. While hair on women's body is common, excessive body hair isn't a normal condition and must be taken seriously. Women are generally unaware that the condition is known as Hirsutism.
What is Hirsutism?
Hirsutism can be defined as growth of excessive facial and body hair in women. With the world obsessed with flawless skin, such changes from feminine hair pattern (soft, fine, vellus hair) to masculine hair pattern (hard, dark, terminal hair) in a woman is generally unwelcoming and, hence, very distressing for the woman.
Why do some women develop Hirsutism?
In order to understand the reasons for such excessive growth in some women, it is important to understand the differences in the physiology of men and women. The male or female appearance of one's body is dependent on a delicate balance between male and female sex hormones. There is a predominance of the hormone estrogen in a woman's body, whereas androgens (testosterone) are the predominant sex hormones among men. However, some amount of androgens is secreted by the ovaries and adrenal glands (located next to kidneys) in women also. But, an excessive production of these hormones results in Hirsutism. Hormonal imbalance is by far the most common cause of Hirsutism.
Causes of Hirsutism
The common causes of hirsutism include:
1. Endocrine causes
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) - PCOS is a condition of hormonal imbalance in the body, which can result in an irregular menstrual cycle, enlarged ovaries with a cystic appearance on USG, infertility, obesity and hirsutism. For more information on the causes and management of PCOS.
- Cushing's syndrome - Excessive production of hormone Cortisol by the adrenal glands can lead to symptoms such as high blood pressure, abdominal obesity, skin discoloration, muscle weakness, irregular menstruation, and hirsutism etc. This syndrome is known as Cushing's syndrome.
- Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH) - CAH is a condition of excessive production of hormones Androgens and Cortisol by the adrenal glands and generally manifests in childhood in the form of virilization. In such cases, CAH can present with symptoms such as ambiguous genitals, obesity, hypertension etc. However, sometimes the manifestation of CAH is deferred to early adulthood and results in milder symptoms, hirsutism being one of them.
2. Tumors - Tumors in ovary or adrenal glands can again cause hirsutism due to excessive production of androgens
- Long term steroid consumption (commonly used for immunosuppression, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis)
- Performance enhancing drugs (often used by athletes)
4. Idiopathic - the woman may be having hirsutism despite normal hormone levels
There are essentially two lines of treatment for hirsutism - one is medical management and the other is a cosmetic treatment.
Medical treatments for hirsutism -
A. Birth control pills - It's possible to reduce the severity and intensity of hair growth using birth control pills- the most commonly prescribed medical intervention! The birth control pills help by decreasing the production of androgens by ovaries. Besides this, estrogen present in the pills also helps the liver to produce more of sex hormone binding protein- these proteins bind to circulating androgens, thereby reducing their action on the body. Both these actions help in reducing the growth of hair on the body.
B. Anti-androgen medications - There are three categories of anti-androgen medications, which are commonly used for the treatment of hirsutism.
- I. Spironolactone - Spironolactone is a diuretic medicine, which blocks the effects of androgens on the hair follicles, thus controlling hair growth.
- II. Finasteride - Finasteride works by blocking the conversion of body testosterone into its more potent chemical entity, thereby limiting the effect of testosterone on hair growth.
- III. Flutamide - Flutamide is a potent anti-androgen, which blocks the actions of androgens and helps in controlling the hair growth.
However, we have to ensure that the woman is not pregnant when taking any of these three medications. These medicines are often combined with oral contraceptives, which also have a synergistic effect in reducing the severity of hirsutism. One should also seek an expert opinion before starting these medications as there can be serious side effects, especially on liver.
C. Steroids - Low dose dexamethasone can be used to control the overactive adrenal glands when used carefully. However, long-term steroid therapy has got its own side effects and this therapy should only be considered under expert care and guidance.
D. Insulin sensitizing medicines - Medicines such as Metformin and Pioglitazone (Basically these are anti-diabetic medications) help in reducing insulin resistance in the body, which, in turn, helps in controlling the effects of excessive circulating androgens.
Cosmetic treatment for hirsutism -
One very important aspect of cosmetic management of hirsutism is self-care. This can include shaving, waxing, use of depilators and bleaching creams. All these measures help to reduce the amount of visible hair in undesired parts of the body. But, this needs to be done very frequently for a sustained visible effect.
Permanent hair removal is also possible using electrolysis or LASER treatment. In electrolysis treatment, electric current is passed into the hair follicle using a needle, which damages the root of the hair permanently. Similarly, LASER treatment uses LASER to destroy the hair follicle. Both these are effective methods to get rid of the undesired hair. However, we do not yet know if there are any long-term complications or side effects of these methods and these methods are not yet approved by the US FDA.
Related Tip: How Safe is Laser Surgery for Facial Hair Removal??
I am 24 years and couple co days back I went to swimming and after a swimming I found some rashes on my legs I went to the doctor and those medicines not worked I thing. Is there any best one available in market.
Hello. I had perianal abscess which got drained in April 2014. The doctor put me on ciprofloxacin 500 mg 6 hourly and Enzomac twice in a day. After a month wound healed but there was always an opening about size of a needle head a the wound. The pus reoccurred thrice during these two years. Doctor prescribes antibiotics and sitz bath and it goes in few days. This time after 8 months there is a discharge as well. Doctor put me on satlum 375 and after 3 days it is almost 90% fine. There is just a small drop of discharge that too if I squeeze the place tightly. Doctor says it is a fistula and advised Mr. fistulogram. Can I live with it without surgery without having any complications. I fear if I do surgery there are still chances of reoccurene. It doest hurt me. There is no pain. It gets fine after antibiotics for few days and goes for 7- 8 months. It gets bad if I have constipation otherwise fine. Should I go for Mr. fistulogram. Is it painful. I fear if they inject dye it will open up the wound and surgery will become unavoidable. Presently after 3 days of medication and sitz bath I feel 100 % fine. Please advise sir.
Doing sex with my partner either oral or vaginal or going back. Is it safe doing Intercourse at back (rectal) area?
Youth is something which is associated with vibrancy and grace. It can be said that over the course of time, there is a big impact on one’s youth. No matter how much vibrancy a woman may retain as she ages, her youthful looks are often at the receiving end of time’s cruelty. But, of course, it does not always have to be that way, especially if a woman is willing to try out fillers!
Fillers are a very effective way to make a woman look younger and they are also very safe, as long as a person who is experienced is the one who is administering them. They are injections which contain a variety of components. One of the major ones happens to be Hyaluronic Acid. While this may seem to be just another name of a chemical to most people, it is very important as it is naturally present in everybody.
In fact, it is a sugar which has a pretty big part to play in terms of the volume of the skin and its condition. Over time, the elasticity of the skin and how well it covers the underlying tissues reduce. When a dermal filler is injected, it provides a boost of this sugar, which helps fight off the effect of ageing, and quite successfully so.
The material that is injected through dermal filler is absorbed over the course of some months by the body. As a result of this, it is true that a person who has chosen dermal fillers to look younger will face a need to have this procedure done again every 10 months to a year. However, judging by the radically beneficial impact that shows almost immediately on the face, it can be said that going through the process again is something that a woman who has had dermal fillers before will think is surely worth it!
One of the biggest advantages of dermal fillers is the low risk factor associated with it, unlike other methods. It is considerably safer than surgeries, which can have their own potential complications and also have longer recovery times. Apart from waiting for some swelling to subside, there is negligible recovery time for dermal fillers. When there is so much in favour of it, why not give dermal fillers a shot? They not only fill one’s face, but also fills one with the exuberance that comes with looking younger!