Hirsutism is a condition that causes random unwanted and excessive hair growth in certain areas of the body. It's a common condition that mainly affects women and is usually a symptom of another underlying condition.
Unwanted facial hair is often the most awkward symptom, causing low self esteem, embarassment and quite often distress. Up to 40% of women are affected by hirsutism at some stage in their life.
Hirsutism is a direct cause of either an excess of male hormones (androgens) in the body, or the body becoming more senstive to the existing amount of endogenous androgen present. It's not always clear what occurs to cause the symptoms but the two biggest causes are:
- PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) - This is the most common cause in younger women. It is characteristed by increased androgens in the body, devloped fluid filled sacs in one ovary or both and irregular periods. PCOS patients often have difficulty in controlling their hormone levels, this includes androgens, thus causing increased, thicker and darker facial hair.
- Post Menopause - Causes for hirsutism in post-menopausal women is unknown as sometimes androgen levels can be within range, yet a patient may still suffer from it. Some women tend to have greater facial hair growth as they get older regardless of menopause.
Less common causes include:
10% of women with unwanted facial hair have no obvious health reasons causing it. There are no cures and the only option is management. Some women can have hormonal stabilsation as they get older and this can sometimes reverse the symptoms of hirsutism.
Ways of managing unwanted facial hair
Vaniqa cream is topical medicine that can be applied twice a day to help treat excessive facial hair growth. It's suitable for all women over the age of 19 and works by slowing down hair growth locally around the face and chin area.
Usually the cream will take a noticeable effect within 2 months and should be discontinued if no benefit is seen after 4 months. If the cream does work however, it is safe for continued use. Stopping treatment will usually cause the hair to grow back within 2 months.
The cream is NOT SUITABLE for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.