Dr Dawn: If you’re a woman and have unwanted facial hair, understandably you’re going to feel self conscious about it but excessive facial hair, or hirsutism, is not an uncommon problem and actually affects up to 15% of women. Hirsutism is diagnosed as an excess of thick, often dark hair on the face, chest, abdomen or upper back, basically all the areas that hair is found on a man. We all have some male hormones called androgens; those with higher levels are more likely to suffer with excessive hair growth. Producing too many androgens can be due to an underlying medical condition. For example, polycystic ovary syndrome produces large amounts of the androgen testosterone and many women with hirsutism have this condition. Excessive facial hair is also associated with age. At least 25% of normal middle aged women remove unwanted facial hair and many notice an increase in facial hair growth once they go through the menopause. It’s also a problem that tends to run in families. So, what can be done? Well, there are lots of options available to women. Many resort to shaving and contrary to popular belief shaving doesn’t make hair grow back thicker and faster, but it is only a short term solution that can leave you with unpleasant stubble so it’s not ideal. Hair removal creams or bleaching work well but they need to be used regularly. Electrolysis and laser treatment provide a more permanent solution but they don’t come cheaply and they can be very time consuming. There are several prescription treatments available including an anti-androgen drug which helps slows down hair growth and some contraceptive pills with specific creams which inhibit hair growth. So if you suffer from facial hair make an appointment to see your GP who will be able to tell you why this is happening and advise on the best course of action for you. Your doctor will explain any possible side effects and what you should expect from any treatment. They’ll also be able to discuss some other options such as electrolysis or laser treatment. Although these treatments aren’t generally available on the NHS your GP may be able to recommend a reputable private clinic in your area.
Quick Health Advice: Unwanted Facial Hair
Women who suffer from excessive facial hair (or hirsutism) can feel extremely self-conscious, but the condition is not uncommon and affects up to 15% of women. In this exclusive guide, Dr Harper discusses the symptoms and causes of this condition, as well as the best treatment options available. Excessive facial hair can be embarrassing, but there are plenty of ways to remove it, either temporarily or on a more permanent basis.
Remember that you should always check with a health professional if you have any concerns about your health.
If you are worried that you child is suffering from excessive hair, read the condition guide especially for parents on Embarrassing Bodies: Kids.
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