What is hirsutism?
Hirsutism is a condition that causes excessive hair growth on the face or body of a woman.
What are the symptoms of hirsutism?
Women who have hirsutism can have thick, dark hair on face, chest, abdomen and back. This hair is thicker and darker than the hair that some women have in the upper lip, chin, breasts or stomach, or fine "baby" hair of the whole body.
Women from certain ethnic groups are more likely to develop hirsutism, including women descendants of the Middle East, South Asia and the Mediterranean.
Other symptoms of hirsutism may include:
- Irregular menstrual periods.
- Deepening of the voice.
- Increased muscle mass.
- Decreased breast size.
When should I consult my doctor about hirsutism?
Consult your doctor if you have a sudden increase in facial or body hair, if your periods have become irregular or if your voice has become thicker.
Are there medicines to treat hirsutism?
There are several medications available to treat hirsutism. Your doctor may prescribe a medicine called anti-androgen to help prevent male hormones that are associated with hirsutism occurring in the body. Common medications include anti-androgens spironolactone and finasteride. Generally, antiandrogens take at least 3 to 6 months to give the result. This may decrease the amount of new hair growth, but is less likely to change the amount of hair you have. Antiandrogens can cause birth defects, so you must use a method of birth control while taking these drugs.
It is also possible that your doctor prescribes birth control pills, which can help reduce androgen in the body. This treatment option is useful, especially for women who do not wish to become pregnant in the near future. The birth control may be prescribed in combination with antiandrogen drugs.
There is also a medication made specifically to slow facial hair growth. This is called eflornithine and is a prescription cream that is applied on the affected skin. This drug may begin to bear fruit soon, 4 to 8 weeks after treatment begins. Side effects include irritation, rash and a stinging sensation on the skin.