What is hirsutism?

Hirsutism is excess hair growth or the growth of hair on an area of the body where hair is not expected (e.g. facial hair in women). Women are almost always affected. This can be a very distressing condition and can lead to significant psychological stress.

What causes hirsutism?

There are number of causes of hirsutism. Patients usually have excess androgens (male sex hormones) in their bodies

In most patients a specific cause for this cannot be identified (known as idiopathic hirsutism). Some women have underlying conditions such as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Patients who are overweight or suffer from diabetes will be at high risk of developing hirsutism.

In some patients hirsutism may be due to side effects of medication. (E.g. steroids, some oral contraceptive pills, anti-epileptic medications)

What are the symptoms?

  • Excess facial hair in women
  • Excess hair on arms, legs and back
  • Symptoms associated with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS);  eg: weight gain, acne, irregular periods and voice changes.

How can hirsutism be treated?

  • DIY beauty treatments: shaving, waxing and bleaching
  • Oral Medication: Anti- androgens, medication for PCOS (metformin)
  • Electrolysis treatment where an electrical current is passed down the hair follicles to suppress hair production
  • Laser treatment

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