Hirsutism can occur due to several underlying medical conditions. In some cases, there may not be an underlying cause.
Causes of excess body hair
Androgens are sex hormones that help develop the reproductive system and secondary sexual traits of males after puberty. One of the most common types of androgens is testosterone. Though doctors may refer to androgens as male hormones, they are present in both male and female bodies. Both sexes will have hair growth under the arms and in the pubic area after puberty. In males, they also stimulate the growth of other body hair, as well as facial hair such as a mustache and beard.
Several medical conditions can cause females to produce too many androgens and grow excessive hair, they are:
1. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
The most common cause of excess body hair in females is a polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). This is a hormonal disorder causing the body to produce too many androgens. The condition accounts for more than 70% of hirsutism cases. Doctors do not fully understand the causes of PCOS; however, symptoms can be managed with birth control pills or other hormonal treatments.
2. Congenital adrenal hyperplasia
A congenital adrenal hyperplasia is a rare group of disorders that affect the adrenal glands and can cause severe symptoms. The female body may produce too many androgens when the adrenal glands do not work correctly. This can lead to a variety of symptoms, including excessive hair growth.
According to research, 0.3 % of hirsutism cases happen due to a tumor that releases androgens. The body hair appears rapidly in these cases and may include other symptoms, such as a mass in the stomach or pelvis.
Some medications can cause excessive hair growth. A person who notices new hair growth after trying a new prescription drug should tell their doctor.
Some drugs with links to hirsutism include certain antipsychotic drugs, Glucocorticosteroids, certain anti-seizure medications, certain immunosuppressive medications, hormone drugs such as testosterone, and some drugs that alter hormone production.
- Thyroid disorders
The thyroid produces hormones that help regulate metabolism and body temperature. The two common thyroid disorders are hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. When the thyroid malfunctions, it may create an imbalance of hormones that causes excess body hair growth in rare cases.
2. Normal vs. abnormal hair growth
It can be challenging to determine if someone has excessive body hair. To assess if someone has hirsutism, researchers have developed the Ferriman-Gallwey scale. This scale assigns a score based on how much hair growth a person has in various body areas.
3. Diagnosing hirsutism
In addition to looking at the Ferriman-Gallwey scale, a doctor will diagnose hirsutism usually by excluding other causes for excessive hair growth.
Tests may include:
- A thorough physical exam.
- Questions about the patient’s family history of similar symptoms, symptom onset, and any medications they may be taking.
- Bloodwork to measure androgen and other hormone levels.
- Charting of a person’s periods and obtaining a detailed menstrual history.
- -Imaging scans to check for tumors and other growths.
- Pelvic exam in which the doctor will look for signs of androgenization or tumors.
4. Natural treatment options for hirsutism include:
- Diet changes: For people who have insulin resistance, reducing their intake of sugars and carbohydrates can help.
- Weight management: Maintaining a moderate weight can help control many symptoms of PCOS.
- In BEAUTY AND NAILS – BEAUTY THERAPY – COSMETOLOGY hair removal methods, such as waxing, shaving, tweezing, or using hair removal creams can improve the appearance. These methods however will not address the underlying cause of excess hair growth so it will be a temporary solution.
5. Medical treatments for excessive hair growth
- Birth control pills help regulate their hormones.
- Insulin to control diabetes.
- Androgen-suppressing medication.
- Low-dose steroid medication.