Excessive hair: When hair growth becomes a problem

Not only hair loss but also excessive hair can become a problem. A circumscribed hypertrichosis is usually only a cosmetically disturbing congenital hair pattern. Hirsutism, an increased sexual, body and facial hair corresponding to the male type, is frequently found in women from the Mediterranean region. Rare hereditary diseases, atavisms or a closed spina bifida lead to abnormal hairiness of the newborn. If the type or location of hair growth changes conspicuously in adults, this may be the expression of a hormonal disorder or a metabolic disorder. Taking some medications can also lead to increased head and body hair.

Facial hair

Unwanted hair growth in women can have many causes. In old age, a few annoying hairs on the chin can easily be removed with tweezers. But hair can also grow quite vigorously and in several places, at any age. In most cases, this is due to androgen-dependent hair growth. Androgens are hormones that form the male appearance in the course of development. In medicine, this androgen-dependent hair growth in women is called hirsutism.

In most cases, there is no disease behind it. Women from the Mediterranean regions and the Near East are more frequently affected than women in Central and Northern Europe. Here it is often women during and after the menopause. Women find hair, especially on the face, but also on the chest, stomach and legs, no matter what age, mostly as extremely disturbing and stressful. Depending on how much hair sprouts on the face, the women affected suffer greatly.

Facial hair – is not necessary.

Beard growth is normal and desirable in men, as it can look very attractive in the male sex. However, women are expected to have smooth skin, especially in the facial area. Unfortunately, however, nature very often ensures that unwanted facial hair, the moustache, also forms in women.

Especially in the face, it can be very stressful for women when unwanted hair is formed. Strong hair growth is considered unaesthetic and unfeminine and often leads to serious psychological problems. For many women, facial hair is only formed during the menopause, and others develop hair at a very young age.

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The diagnosis

If hair growth occurs suddenly, without a family history of accumulation and natural hormonal changes, as is the case with menopause, there is always a risk of serious illness. First and foremost, diseases of the ovaries and the adrenal cortex must be considered. In the GP’s practice, a detailed survey of the patient’s medical history and medication intake will be carried out. To diagnose a case of hirsutism, the Ferryman-Gallwey Index can be helpful. The hair growth is divided into nine body areas and is to be evaluated with zero to four points each according to the extent. Hirsutism is diagnosed from eight points upwards. However, this does not yet provide any information on the cause. A blood test can then provide further clarification. Here, the testosterone or DHEA value is determined first. DHEA is a hormone called dehydroepiandrosterone, which is a precursor of testosterone. If this value is increased, this could indicate a disturbance of the adrenal gland. However, hirsutism is not always triggered by an elevated testosterone level. Here, the causes must then be searched for further.

Possible therapies

If an underlying disease is diagnosed, it should be treated immediately and preferably causally. Regardless of how quickly, and if at all, to reduce unwanted hair growth, there are different measures for an accompanying cosmetic correction. In most cases, it will be idiopathic hirsutism. Causal treatment is not possible. Only cosmetic therapies are left.

Olivia Wilson is a digital nomad and founder of Todays Past. She travels the world while freelancing & blogging. She has over 5 years of experience in the field with multiple awards. She enjoys pie, as should all right-thinking people.