Hirsutism is excessive growth of dark, thick and coarse hair in a female in a male pattern. If the excessive hair is generalised and not in a gender specific pattern, the term is ‘hypertrichosis’, which means increased (‘hyper’) hair (‘trichosis’).
Hirsutism is caused by an increased androgen (male hormones) production, or increased skin sensitivity to androgens, or both. In premenopausal women, most common cause of hirsutism is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
Treatments for hirsutism without any underlying cause include:
- Shaving. Stubble that follows regrowth may be undesirable and frequent shaving may irritate the skin.
- Waxing should be used with caution on the face. Folliculitis and scarring can occur.
- Depilatories creams dissolve hair shafts, may irritate your skin. First test your skin with the product to prevent allergy.
- Bleaching creams make the dark hairs pale. They may irritate the skin and can be unsuitable for dark skin.
- Electrolysis. An electrical current is passed into a hair follicle through a needle to destroy the hair root permanently.
- Laser treatments destroy the hair root permanently. Possible side effects include redness, darkening or lightening of the skin, and scarring. Total compliance is required; this will include no sun bathing (or fake tanning) and cessation of all forms of hair removal, with the exception of shaving.
- Eflornithine cream. works by slowing hair growth.
- Anti-androgens block the action of the androgens that cause hirsutism.