A range of products to help with hair removal
Female Facial Hair
The excessive growth of hair in females, also called facial Hirsutism, is where women grow thick and dark hair usually on their face, especially on areas such as the upper lip and chin. The cause of this dark and thick hair emerging is an increase of the male hormones called androgens. The most common causes for women growing such hair include a condition called Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), side effects from medication and hormonal changes such as menopause, although sometimes excessive hair growth can have no obvious cause. Excess female facial hair usually is more common amongst women with dark hair and can run in the family.
Excess female facial hair affects approximately 5-10% of women who have not reached menopause age. It affects up to 75% of women who have reached menopause. During menopause, oestrogen levels diminish and testosterone (which is an androgen) increases, causing the growth of facial hair.
In premenopausal women, facial hirsutism is caused by an increased sensitivity to the male hormones called androgens, which increase in number. This sensitivity is usually caused by Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). PCOS sufferers experience symptoms such as irregular periods, weight gain and acne.
When the cause of excess female facial hair is unknown, the condition is referred to as idiopathic hirsutism (23% of cases).
Other possible causes of excess androgen activity can include:
- Cushing's syndrome – an uncommon hormonal disorder which can lead to sudden weight gain and bloating of the torso.
- Congenital adrenal hyperplasia – which is a hereditary condition affecting the production of sex hormones
- Acromegaly – a disorder leading to excess growth hormones
- Medicines – for example anabolic steroids
Facial Hair Removal
Most people have a fine layer of light tiny hairs that cover the whole body. In hirsutism however, these hairs become noticeably thicker, darker and coarser. Although it is most commonly seen on the face, it can also occur on other body parts such as the neck, chest, stomach and buttocks.
Experiencing this excess hair growth can be very distressing for women and it is important to seek treatment when possible.
Excess hair growth is usually accompanied by a number of other symptoms:
- Oily skin
- Deepening voice
- Receding hair line
If the hirsutism is a result of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), symptoms will also include:
- Weight gain
- Irregular periods
Excessive female facial hair growth does not need to be diagnosed by a doctor. It is important to note that what is considered ‘excessive’ is subjective opinion and will vary from person to person. However, if you start noticing excess hair growth that is dark, thick and coarse, it might be a good idea to let you GP know as it could be a symptom of something else (such as PCOS) or be a side effect to a medication that you are taking. It might be necessary to investigate the cause of such occurrence.
Hirsutism will be diagnosed by your doctor visually inspecting the hair growth on nine different areas of the body. The hair growth on each area will be graded from 0 to 4, where 0 means no hair growth and 4 means thick, dark and coarse hair growth. If you have a score of 15 or more, you can be diagnosed with moderate to severe hirsutism.
If hirsutism is causing you to suffer from psychological problems such as a loss of confidence, humiliation or even depression, it is important to let your doctor know and seek treatment for it.
If you have been diagnosed with hirsutism and it is considered idiopathic hirsutism (where the cause is unknown) you may want to begin treating your unwanted excessive hair growth. If you know what the cause is and that underlying condition is also being addressed and treated, you may also want to go ahead and start treating your hirsutism.
If you have self-diagnosed your hirsutism and wish to do something about it, it is recommended that you consult a doctor before starting any treatment just in case there are no underlying causes such as PCOS.
There are number of ways to remove, reduce and disguise excess facial hair, however as they are considered cosmetic treatments, they are not available through the NHS and will have to be purchased independently.
If you suffer from mild hirsutism, you might be able to just use common hair removal techniques without intervening with medication. All the following techniques can help reduce the appearance of excessive hair growth, the suitability of which can differ from individual to individual:
- Shaving- is quick and easy however it can cause irritation and leave stubble
- Bleaching– can effectively lighten hair and make it less visible, it works best with people with paler complexions.
- Waxing, plucking and threading– can help reduce the hair regrowth, however these methods can be painful and cause inflamed follicles.
- Electrolysis– can remove hair permanently, however the treatment can take a long time as well as being quite expensive. It can also cause scarring and changes in colour to the skin.
- Laser Hair Removal– can remove hair permanently, however this treatment requires a few sessions over the course of weeks or months and can be quite expensive. It works best on women with dark hair and pale skin.
Excess hair growth itself is not hereditary, although some of the underlying causes may be.
It affects 15% of premenopausal women. It affects 75% of postmenopausal women.
No. However, there are a number of treatments to help reduce and remove the hair and if the hirsutism is a symptom of an underlying condition, then treating such condition may help with the excessive growth.
Excessive female facial hair growth does not need to be diagnosed by a doctor. It is important to note that what is considered ‘excessive’ is subjective opinion and will vary from person to person.
Hirsutism affects up to 75% of women who have reached
menopause. During menopause, oestrogen levels diminish and testosterone (which
is an androgen) increases, causing the growth of facial hair.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a medical condition where small sacs of fluids, called cysts, form on the outside of a womans ovaries. As a womans ovaries produce sex hormones, PCOS can lead to an imbalance of hormones such as an increase of androgens (for example testosterone) which can result in excessive hair growth. PCOS can also cause acne, weight gain and change the regularity of the menstrual cycle.
The excessive growth of hair in females, also called facial Hirsutism, is where women grow thick and dark hair usually on their face, especially on areas such as the upper lip and chin. The cause of this dark and thick hair emerging is an increase of the male hormones called androgens. The most common causes for women growing such hair include a condition called Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) which affects 72% of premenopausal women.
Other causes can include; Cushing's disease, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, acromegaly, an androgen producing tumour, obesity and reactions to medicines. 23% of cases have no identifiable cause (idiopathic hirsutism).