Excess facial hair (hirsutism) is condition that affects women, in which excess and accelerated hair growth occurs on parts of the body such as the face, groin, abdomen, and chest (typical male pattern of hair growth). This condition can often lead to severe embarrassment and distress for an individual. The amount of body hair a person has depends on their genetic makeup. Family traits or increased levels of male hormones are common causes of excess facial hair.
There are 4 levels of severity for excess facial hair growth:
- A few hairs at the outer part of the upper lip/few scattered hairs on the chin
- Small moustache at the outer margins of the upper lip/small concentration of hair on the chin
- Moustache extending halfway from the outer margin of the upper lip/light complete coverage of the chin
- Moustache on the entire upper lip/heavy growth on the entire chin Unwanted hair can be easily removed by shaving, tweezing or waxing.
Although these methods are economical, they can be painful and are temporary solutions. Procedures such as electrolysis are much more expensive, but can provide a more permanent solution. Lasers can also be an excellent method for permanent hair reduction.
Common features of unwanted facial hair include:
- Acceleration of hair growth
- Coarse and pigmented body hair
- New hair growth on parts of the body that previously did not have hair
A significantly increased level of androgens associated with hirsutism may also cause:
- Deepening of voice Increased muscle mass
- Acne Irregular menstrual cycle
Unwanted facial hair is caused by a variety of factors. The most common causes are an increased level of male hormones called “androgens” and hereditary traits. Medications may also cause excess facial hair to grow. Excess facial hair may also signal the onset of an underlying illness. If any new or sudden hair growth is noticed, consult with a physician. The presence of excessive hair combined with an irregular menstrual cycle, raises the possibility of polycycstic ovary syndrome (PCOS). It is important to rule out underlying endocrine abnormalities.
Unwanted hair can be removed at home by shaving, tweezing and waxing, as well as through depilatory creams that dissolve hair or bleaches that lighten hair. During these home procedures, make sure to keep the skin clean and free of dirt to avoid irritating the skin or developing additional conditions such as acne.Use gentle cleansers and moisturizers to keep the skin clean and hydrated. Avoid astringents that contain alcohol, which may dry out the skin. Make sure to clean personal care items such as razors and tweezers prior to use, to avoid any risk of spreading bacteria or infection.
You can prevent additional irritation to your skin by exercising proper shaving techniques. Use a shaving gel or warm water to soften the hair. Make sure your razor is not dull or blocked with debris. Shave in the direction of the grain to avoid ingrown hairs. After shaving use a gentle moisturizer to rehydrate the skin.
Over-the-counter products such as depilatory creams may be used to dissolve and lighten hair.
A doctor may prescribe a hormone blocker such as spironolactone, to control the growth of facial hair. Oral contraceptives are also effective in counteracting the effects of male hormones, as well as blocking testosterone to the skin receptors, reducing its impact on the hair follicle.
While procedures such as shaving and tweezing can be done at home and are economical, the hair will continue to grow back. Procedures such as electrolysis and laser hair removal can offer a permanent solution to unwanted facial hair.
- Self treatments (bleaching, plucking, shaving, waxing)
- Chemical depilatories
- Eflornithine Hydrochloride (Vaniqa Cream)
- Laser Hair Removal