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Hirsutism is a condition, suffered by women that causes excessive hair growth in areas such as the chin, upper lip line and even the chest and breasts which are more usually associated with hair growth in men.

This problem affects approximately ten percent of women. It can be a distressing and socially isolating problem, perhaps due particularly to the association of facial hair growth with the opposite sex.

It can also be psychologically damaging for women.

Signs and Symptoms

You will know you have Hirsutism as you will have excess hair growth on your face, chest and other areas of your body. The hair will usually be thicker and coarser than that of other women. Some women even have excess hair growth on their stomach, bum, back or even their legs.

The hair which grows on those bodies of those women with hirsutism is terminal hair, rather than vellous hair, which is the fine, downy hair which covers the whole bodies but which is barely visible.

Sufferers of hirsutism are also more likely to get acne and seborrhoea as a result of the skin producing too much sebum, its natural oil.

You will usually experience the symptoms at puberty and it will likely become more severe as you mature and age. It is an actual medical condition, and is not to be confused with the fact that all women have increased facial and bodily hair growth after the menopause, or that women of Indian or Mediterranean are also likely to have more of this hair growth than other women.


The condition is linked to male hormones, otherwise known as androgens. Every woman has some male hormones, but if you have hirsutism it is either because you have an excess of these androgens or that your hair follicles are particularly sensitive to their effect. It can also be hereditary, running in families.

It can also be caused by acromegaly, where a person has an excess of growth hormone in their body. It can also be a side-effect of taking steroids and certain treatments for endometriosis or epilepsy.


Of course, it’s without saying you should discuss your concerns with a doctor, especially if the hair growth is rapid or begins before puberty or if it suddenly worsens, because it can be confused with other conditions and mask other underlying health issues.

It is important to get yourself checked out for polycystic ovary syndrome, the condition most commonly associated with increased androgen levels in women. This may also be the cause of acne, menstrual problems, weight gain and thinning hair on the head so those are symptoms to look out for.


Hirsutism can be difficult to treat and cure permanently, because it can be difficult to identify the underlying cause, although a specialist may advise surgery for polycystic ovaries or prescribe you medication for underlying causes.

For most women, dealing with idiopathic hirsutism is a matter of dealing with the symptoms: the excess of hair growing where you don't want it to.

You can help yourself by losing weight, believe it or not, if you are obese, as larger woman may have increased androgen levels. So make sure you eat healthily and exercise regularly. That is good for all of us, anyway.

The remaining treatments are those that deal with hair removal. Shaving may not be the best idea. It may be easy but with hirsutism you may have to shave so often that you irritate your skin.

You also run the risk of having the unwanted hair looking thicker and darker as it grows back as the ends will be blunt. Stubble re-growth can also be really uncomfortable.

Plucking, waxing and threading all have a longer term effect, as the whole hair is taken out of the follicle, but that can be really painful. It can also, on rare occasions, cause scarring and the hair follicle can become infected.


May be permanent in some cases, although this is not guaranteed, and it is rather painful. You will also have to undergo several sessions of this treatment. You need to make sure you only ever used a qualified electrolysis therapist.

Laser hair removal for hirsutism is the most effective treatment, with long-lasting results. Although laser is not 100% permanent, you will however, notice your hair becomes a lot thinner and finer after 12 sessions 4 to 6 weeks apart.

Look for a laser technician that uses laser rather than IPL as lasers are much stronger and so results last longer.

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