What Is Hirsutism and How Do You Deal With It?

“The slap heard around the world.”

That’s how some describe the slapping incident involving Chris Rock, Will Smith, and Jada Pinkett Smith. If you haven’t watched the clip yet, Will Smith struck Rock after the latter made a joke about Pinkett Smith’s hair. For context, the actress has alopecia, an autoimmune condition that causes hair to fall out.

Image source: Internet

One cause of alopecia in women is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). However, PCOS may also trigger an opposite condition, known as hirsutism. So, what is hirsutism?

Let’s discuss hirsutism, how it affects women and some approaches for treating it.

Defining the Condition: What Is Hirsutism?

Some women talk about unwanted hair growth, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they have hirsutism.

When there’s excess hair growth on the face or body, and it’s in a male-type pattern, meaning the hair is coarse, it’s hirsutism. The primary cause is high androgen (male hormone) levels in the hair follicle or bloodstream.

If you have hirsutism, you could have hair growing on your upper lip, chin, chest, and back. Besides PCOS, conditions that may cause hirsutism are Cushing’s syndrome, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, and tumors. Some medications may also cause an overgrowth of facial and body hair, including minoxidil and danazol.

How Does Hirsutism Affect Women?

Have you tried searching “celebrities with hirsutism” online? While some stars embrace natural body hair, finding an A-lister who’s proud to be hirsute may be challenging.

That’s because hirsutism can affect one’s self-esteem and body image. Those who have excess facial and body hair feel embarrassed. They might think having hirsutism is unfeminine.

There’s also the matter of hair removal. Shaving, plucking, and epilating can be time-consuming and frustrating. Meanwhile, other methods, such as lasers and electrolysis, could be expensive.

Management and Treatment of Hirsutism

If PCOS is the cause of your hirsutism and you’re overweight, working toward a normal body weight can help.

Since weight gain could increase your insulin levels, ramping up androgen production, just losing 10% of your body weight can help normalize your hormone levels. However, if you’re not sure you have PCOS, it’s best to confirm a diagnosis. A doctor will order tests to check your androgen levels and perform a pelvic exam to rule out tumors.

If you have hirsutism-PCOS, your doctor might put you on oral contraceptives, anti-androgens, or a prescription topical cream that helps slow new hair growth. You can also look here for more information on hirsutism treatment.

For patients with no underlying disorders, treatment may not be necessary. That means you can opt to manage excess hair growth with self-care methods like depilation and bleaching.

Should You Call a Healthcare Provider for Hirsutism?

Now that you know the answer to “What is hirsutism?” are you going to consult a doctor soon?

It may help confirm a PCOS diagnosis, which can be treated with lifestyle modifications and medications. If it’s not PCOS, it’s still good to see a physician so they can check if there’s an underlying condition that might be causing your hirsutism.

For more health tips and advice, feel free to check our other posts.

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